FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory groundbreaking ceremony in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song
April 24, 2019
(Reuters) – Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Wednesday he was considering building a factory in Germany, responding to a user’s suggestion on Twitter.
The electric carmaker is scheduled to report first-quarter results after markets close.
(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru)
We hadn’t heard much on the US-China trade talks in recent days as the Trump administration appeared content to sit back and watch stocks rip to fresh all-time highs.
But after Larry Kudlow told a reporter during a public appearance on Tuesday that talks were making progress and that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for a deal, a flurry of reports out overnight affirmed that the next – and hopefully final – round of negotiations will begin in Beijing next week.
According to Bloomberg, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer will travel to Beijing on Tuesday as both sides hope to hammer out a final deal by the end of May.
Talks starting next Tuesday “will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases and enforcement,” the White House said in a statement.
Answering a question from a reporter during an appearance at the National Press Club, Kudlow said the final deal would be more sweeping in scope than “anything in the history of US-China trade.”
“We’re not there yet, but we’ve made a heck of a lot of progress,” Kudlow said.
“We’ve come further and deeper, broader, larger-scale than anything in the history of U.S.-China trade.”
“We’ve gotten closer and we’re still working on the issues, so-called structural issues, technology transfers,” Kudlow added. “Ownership enforcement is absolutely crucial. Lowering barriers to buy and sell agriculture and industrial commodities. It’s all on the table.”
The following week, Chinese officials led by Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington for discussions set to begin on May 8. By the end of that week, officials on both sides reportedly hope to have a deal in hand that could potentially be signed in Japan later in May during President Trump’s visit to the country to meet new emperor Crown Prince Naruhito.
Officials hope to announce that a deal has been reached, as well as plans for a signing summit, during Liu’s visit to Washington.
Still, one Chinese official noted that the US must still agree to some concessions before a deal can be finalized.
The intense meetings indicated that the two sides have the pressure and willingness to reach a deal,” said Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese Ministry of Commerce official and diplomat. “But whether a deal can be reached or not, depends on both sides needing to show understanding and make concessions.”
American and Chinese officials have reportedly been in regular contact via teleconference since Liu’s last visit to Washington in early April. The two biggest obstacles to a deal remain an agreement on enforcement – Mnuchin had previously said the two sides had agreed to open ‘enforcement bureaus’ and reports said Trump was considering leaving the issue to his successor by setting a target of 2025 for China to fulfill its pledges. The fact that they haven’t been ironed out means the Trump Administration hasn’t entirely caved, at least not yet.
Another enforcement plan would involve an agreement for China and the US to unilaterally impose sanctions over suspected violations after a bilateral consultation. That might involve both sides foregoing their rights to retaliate and bring up challenges with the WTO.
Also, the issue of the US removing some or all of the trade war tariffs remains a problem for Beijing.
Despite these longstanding obstacles, analysts remain optimistic that a deal will be reached in the near future.
“The cake is almost baked, so this should be the final back-and-forth. There is relatively little left to tie down substantively, and the optics look better for the Chinese if these visits look reciprocal,” said Leland Miller, chief executive officer of China Beige Book, an economics consulting firm.
Miller added that the deal has largely already been priced in by markets, which means that while stocks might not see any more upside once a deal is struck, the agreement could trigger a ‘sell the news’-type reaction. Or worse, if it does ultimately fall through, or if the can is kicked down the road, stocks could throw a tantrum.
Sometimes art imitates real life.
FILE PHOTO: The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney leaves after a news conference at the Bank of England in London, Britain February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool/File Photo
April 24, 2019
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is searching for a new governor of the Bank of England to succeed Mark Carney in early 2020.
Finance minister Philip Hammond is hoping that concerns about Brexit will not deter potential applicants.
Below are possible contenders to run the BoE which oversees the world’s fifth-biggest economy and its huge finance industry.
The former deputy BoE governor was tipped by analysts as Carney’s most likely successor. But delays to the search, after Carney extended his time in London, have raised questions about whether Hammond sees him as the best candidate.
Bailey, 60, was deputy governor with a focus on banks before becoming chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, a markets regulator.
While at the BoE, Bailey helped to steer Britain’s banks through the global financial crisis.
Heading the FCA is fraught with risks. Lawmakers criticised Bailey for not publishing all of a report into alleged misconduct by bank RBS. Bailey cited privacy restrictions.
As FCA boss, Bailey sits on important panels at the BoE that oversee banks. Although he has never been interest-rate setter, he once ran the BoE international economic analysis team.
Rajan, 56, headed the Reserve Bank of India from 2013 to 2016, and was chief economist at the International Monetary Fund between 2003 and 2006 when he warned of the risk of a financial crisis.
Now a professor at Chicago Booth business school, Rajan has published a book on dissatisfaction with markets and the state – touching on some of the underlying issues behind Brexit.
Rajan unexpectedly did not seek a renewal of his three-year term at the RBI, having faced hostility from some sections of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party who disliked his less nationalist stance and brief forays into political territory.
Rajan declined to comment when asked by Reuters last week whether he would consider a return to active policymaking.
Egyptian-born Shafik, 57, was a BoE deputy governor between 2014 and 2017, in charge of markets and banking, including the central bank’s asset purchase programme. She quit the job early to become director of the London School of Economics.
Between 2008 and 2011 she was the top civil servant at Britain’s ministry for overseas aid and was then deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, where she represented the fund in the Greek debt crisis.
Shafik would become the first woman to head the BoE, and was only its second female deputy governor.
BEN BROADBENT AND DAVE RAMSDEN
Broadbent, 54, and Ramsden, 55, are deputy governors for monetary policy and for markets and banking respectively.
Broadbent, a former Goldman Sachs economist who trained as a classical pianist, is respected for his economic analysis but has less experience on banking oversight.
Ramsden was the Treasury’s chief economic advisor.
The two other BoE deputy governors, Jon Cunliffe and Sam Woods, are less likely contenders. Woods focuses mostly on financial regulation while Cunliffe – a former British ambassador to the European Union – would be aged 66 at the start of the term which usually runs for eight years.
Vadera, 56, has no central banking experience but is seen as a contender due to her current role as non-executive chairwoman of Santander UK, one of Britain’s biggest banks, and her time as a junior business minister during the financial crisis.
Vadera served as a minister from 2007 to 2009 after a career in investment banking and a period at the finance ministry.
In 2008, she was part of a small group of ministers and officials who devised a plan worth hundreds of billions of pounds in loan guarantees to keep high-street banks in business.
The BoE’s chief economist, Haldane has developed a reputation for floating unconventional ideas, including the possibility that music apps such as Spotify and multiplayer online games might give central bankers just as a good a sense of what is going on in the economy as traditional surveys.
In 2012, he praised the anti-capitalist Occupy movement for suggesting new ways to fix the shortcomings of global finance. Haldane has experience of both sides of the BoE, having served as executive director for financial stability, overseeing the risks to the economy from the banking system. But he might be seen as too much of a maverick to take the job of governor.
A LABOUR PARTY GOVERNOR?
The prospect of the left-wing Labour Party taking power has grown as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to break the Brexit impasse.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his would-be finance minister John McDonnell are socialists and have in the past proposed that the BoE should fund investment in infrastructure, a big change from its current focus on inflation.
Former members of Labour’s economic advisory committee included U.S. academic and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and Ann Pettifor, a British economist who is an austerity critic, and former BoE rate-setter David Blanchflower.
(Writing by William Schomberg and David Milliken, Editing by Angus MacSwan)
FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih talks during the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
April 24, 2019
By Saeed Azhar and Stephen Kalin
RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Wednesday he saw no need to raise oil output immediately after the United States ends waivers granted to buyers of Iranian crude, but added that the kingdom would respond to customers’ needs if asked for more oil.
Khalid al-Falih said he was guided by oil market fundamentals not prices, and that the world’s top oil exporter remained focused on balancing the global oil market.
“Inventories are actually continuing to rise despite what is happening in Venezuela and despite the tightening of sanctions on Iran. I don’t see the need to do anything immediately,” Falih said in Riyadh.
The United States has decided not to renew exemptions from sanctions against Iran granted last year to buyers of Iranian oil, taking a tougher line than expected.
“Our intent is to remain within our voluntary (OPEC) production limit,” Falih said, adding that Riyadh would “be responsive to our customers, especially those who have been under waivers and those whose waivers have been withdrawn.”
“We think there will be an uptick in real demand but certainly we are not going to be pre-emptive and increase production,” the minister said.
He said Saudi Arabia’s oil production in May was pretty much set with very little variation from the last couple of months. June crude allocations would be decided early next month, he said.
The kingdom’s exports in April will be below 7 million barrels per day (bpd), while production is around 9.8 million bpd, Saudi officials have said. Under the OPEC-led deal on supply cuts, Saudi Arabia can pump up to 10.3 million bpd.
Falih said there would most likely be “some level of production management beyond June” by OPEC and its allies, but it was too early to predict the output targets now.
Oil prices rallied to their highest level since November after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end next week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.
Eight countries, including China and India, were granted waivers for six months, and several had expected those exemptions to be renewed.
Brent crude futures fell on Wednesday, trading at $74.18 per barrel at 0848 GMT, after the International Energy Agency said oil markets were “adequately supplied” and “global spare production capacity remains at comfortable levels.”
A senior U.S. administration official said on Monday that Trump was confident Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would fulfill pledges to compensate for any shortfall in the oil market following Washington’s decision to end the Iran waivers.
OPEC and industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday that Gulf OPEC producers could meet any oil supply shortage but would first wait to see whether there was actual demand.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, agreed to cut output by 1.2 million bpd. They meet on June 25-26 to decide whether to extend the pact.
A panel of energy ministers from major oil producers, known as the JMMC, meets on May 19 to discuss the oil market and make recommendations before the June meeting, OPEC sources said.
(Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Dale Hudson and Edmund Blair)
FILE PHOTO – The Goldman Sachs company logo is seen in the company’s space on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
April 24, 2019
By Ebru Tuncay and Birsen Altayli
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs is in talks with Turkish banks and companies to buy large distressed loans following a wave of corporate restructurings in the country last year, two sources close to the matter told Reuters.
The sources, who requested anonymity, did not specify the size of the restructured loans but said Goldman was looking at those valued in the range of $2 billion to $6 billion.
Turkish banks, grappling with fallout from a recession and a weak lira, could be interested in selling loans to bolster their stressed balance sheets and to gain access to liquidity, the sources said. One of the Turkish government’s priorities is to relieve banks of bad loans.
One of the sources said that non-performing loans specialists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, as well as at certain large London-based banks, were in “intense talks right now” over restructured Turkish loans.
A representative for Goldman Sachs in Turkey declined to comment.
Since Turkey’s currency crisis last year, where the lira halved in value at one stage, companies constrained by the currency weakness have sought to restructure their debts.
The weaker lira, which has fallen another 10 percent this year, has made it difficult for Turkish companies to service foreign-currency debts.
“They (Goldman Sachs) are not interested in complicated situations. They are interested in good loans for which the bank could provide a relative hair cut,” or discount, a second source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Some of the big corporate loans in Turkey that have been restructured or are being restructured include a $5.5 billion loan taken out by Yildiz Holding, which owns Godiva chocolates; a 2 billion euro ($2.2 billion) loan from restaurant group Dogus Holding; and a $4.75 billion loan for Turk Telekom’s previous shareholder OTAS.
Restructured loans make up more than 100 billion liras ($17 billion) of the loans in Turkey’s banking sector, which total 2.5 trillion lira, Finance Ministry data showed.
The non-performing loan ratio at banks rose to 4.2 percent in the wake of last year’s crisis and is expected to reach 6 percent by year-end, according to the ministry data.
The potential for big returns from distressed debt deals has already attracted attention in the financial markets.
Earlier this month, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said it was ready to help with Turkish banks’ non-performing loans. In March, sources told Reuters that Japan’s Orix and U.S.-based Bain Capital were in talks to buy problematic loans from Turkish banks.
“Investment banks can talk to (Turkish) banks and take over these loans with a hair cut,” a distressed asset trader in London said. “But what is important here is how much of a hair cut there will be. It may take some time to be agreed upon,” he said.
As part of a reform plan announced this month by Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, loans in the energy and construction sector would be taken off banks’ balance sheets.
The Treasury will also issue 5-year debt instruments worth a total of 3.7 billion euros to strengthen the capital of state banks, it said on Monday.
(Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Jane Merriman)
FILE PHOTO: A trader speaks to a floor official on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
April 24, 2019
By Sruthi Shankar and Amy Caren Daniel
(Reuters) – Wall Street was set to open flat on Wednesday after a record-setting rally in the previous session, as investors assessed quarterly reports from industrial bellwethers Boeing and Caterpillar.
Boeing Co shares gained 1.5% in premarket trading even as the planemaker suspended its 2019 outlook and reported quarterly revenue below Wall Street estimates due to grounding of its 737 MAX jets. Its stock has lost 11.5% since the deadly Ethiopian crash in early March.
Caterpillar Inc fell 2.6%. The company topped analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit but posted a 4% decline in construction revenue in Asia-Pacific, one of its key markets dominated by China.
“Thus far you’ve had pretty strong reactions to earnings and investor sentiment is nervously positive,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
“The nervousness has to do with valuations and the concern being, ‘Am I going to get good enough results and guidance to justify the markets going higher?’”
The main indexes are holding within a hair’s breadth of all-time highs after a rally this year, sparked by a dovish Federal Reserve, hopes of a U.S.-China trade resolution and an upbeat earnings season.
The benchmark S&P 500 index is just 0.25% away from its intra-day record high of 2,940.91 hit on Sept. 21.
About a third of the S&P 500 companies are expected to report this week, determining if investors should be concerned about the start of an earnings recession or whether back-to-back quarters of negative growth can be avoided.
Profits of S&P 500 companies are expected to decline 1.1% for the quarter, according to Refinitv data. However, 77.5% of the 129 companies that have reported so far have surpassed earnings estimates.
At 8:39 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 15 points, or 0.06%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1 points, or 0.03% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 1.25 points, or 0.02%.
Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc, set to report after the closing bell on Wednesday, were up more than 0.5%.
EBay Inc shares jumped 3.6% after the company raised its full-year sales and profit forecasts.
AT&T Inc shares declined 2.5% after the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier reported quarterly revenue below Wall Street estimates.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp shares jumped 11.4% after Occidental Petroleum Corp sought to scuttle Chevron Corp’s takeover of the company with a $57 billion bid. Occidental’s shares fell 5.2%.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)
FILE PHOTO: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih speaks during the Gulf Intelligence Saudi Arabia Energy Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
April 24, 2019
By Stephen Kalin and Saeed Azhar
RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, will remain active in the debt markets after its debut $12 billion bond earlier this month, which was “only the beginning”, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Wednesday.
Falih, speaking at a financial conference in Riyadh, also said Aramco would access the equity markets earlier than expected after the company gained exposure among investors through the bond sale.
Many saw the debt deal as a relationship-building exercise with international investors ahead of Aramco’s planned initial public offering, aimed at raising money for the government as Saudi Arabia looks to cut its budget deficit and diversify its economy.
Saudi officials have said the new planned listing date is 2021, but Falih told the conference on Wednesday that the share sale “could slip or come forward a little bit”.
Aramco received more than $100 billion in orders by April 9 for its debut bond – even after its prospectus said the kingdom would not guarantee Aramco’s notes – but chose to sell only $12 billion.
The bond came on the heels of Aramco’s planned $69.1 billion acquisition of a 70 percent stake in petrochemicals firm Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Citi, Goldman Sachs and National Commercial Bank were the bonds’ bookrunners.
JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, along with other banks, worked on the planned stock market listing of Aramco before the move was postponed last year.
(Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Saeed Azhar; Writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Dale Hudson)
FILE PHOTO: SAP logo at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Douglas Busvine
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – U.S. activist investor Elliott revealed a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) stake in SAP on Wednesday and said it supported a new management efficiency drive, sending shares in the German business software company to an all-time high.
SAP has until now escaped the attention of activist investors, steered by co-founder and Chairman Hasso Plattner who has withstood tough competition from U.S. rivals and is still the biggest shareholder in the German company with 6.5 percent.
Yet SAP has never achieved the 40 percent profit margins that Microsoft boasted at its height. It reported an adjusted operating margin of 24 percent for the first quarter as it grapples with a catch-up transition to cloud computing.
Europe’s most valuable technology company now wants to expand adjusted operating margins by a total of 5 percentage points through 2023.
“This is that magic moment that people have been waiting for where they are like, wow, nobody grows like SAP, but can I get some margin out of this growth?” Bill McDermott, the 57-year-old New Yorker who has run SAP for nine years, told Reuters.
“I think our shareholders are going to be super-psyched.”
Boosting margins in the cloud – where SAP’s subscription-based products are hosted remotely – is the holy grail for a company that still makes most of its money from license fees and maintenance for software running on customers’ on-site servers.
The Elliott stake of around 1 percent in SAP is the first German technology investment by the $34 billion U.S. hedge fund group, which has also urged industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp to restructure and called on utility Uniper to agree to a takeover by Fortum.
Elliott technology-team partner Jesse Cohn and portfolio manager Jason Genrich have a track record of close involvement with the firms they back, with Cohn for example taking a board seat at online marketplace eBay as part of a deal with management on a strategy review and running activist campaigns at software firms EMC and Citrix .
“Elliott fully supports the initiatives announced today,” Cohn and Genrich said in a statement.
“The company’s shares were clearly undervalued in relation to its revenue growth, and today’s announcement lays the foundation for substantial realization of value.”
SAP’s shares have underperformed rivals Oracle, Salesforce and Microsoft in the past 12 months. It trades at a forward price/earnings ratio of 21, compared to 58 at Salesforce, an all-cloud outfit, 25 at Microsoft and 15 at Oracle, according to Refinitiv data.
“SAP is in the fortunate position that a number of shareholders give us regular feedback – we welcome that feedback, which we take seriously, especially as we advance our plans to meet or beat our 2023 ambitions,” SAP said in response to the Elliott investment.
BEST DAY IN A DECADE
The pivot by McDermott came as SAP reported a quarterly operating loss of 136 million euros due to an 886 million euro up-front charge arising from the announcement in January that SAP would let go of 4,400 people.
After adjusting for that and other one-offs, non-IFRS operating profits rose by 13 percent at constant currencies to 1.47 billion euros, above expectations in a poll of 17 analysts.
Chief Financial Officer Luka Mucic said the staffing exercise, only the second major restructuring since SAP was founded by Plattner and a group of former IBM colleagues in 1972, was on track.
SAP lifted its growth forecast for non-IFRS operating profits this year to 9.5-12.5 percent at constant currencies, while also nudging up its outlook for 2020.
Its shares rose 8 percent – their biggest daily gain since Nov. 2008, adding $11 billion to its market cap. That in turn lifted the Stoxx Europe 600 Technology Index by 2.7 percent to its highest since last July.
SAP will update investors at a capital markets day on Nov. 12 in New York. It is eyeing a multi-year share buyback program as McDermott sets his sights on more than doubling the company’s market capitalization to $300 billion.
Valuing the cloud side of the business at 10 times revenues – in line with industry peers – gives a figure of $200 billion based on projected 2023 revenues, McDermott said. Add to that a core revenue multiple of 4-5 times gives another $100 billion.
“It’s just simple math,” he told Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Michelle Martin, Kirsten Donovan/Georgina Prodhan/Jane Merriman)
FILE PHOTO: Matteo Salvini, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the far-right League Party, speaks as he launches campaigning for the European elections, in Milan, Italy April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo/File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Giuseppe Fonte and Gavin Jones
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s government approved an economic growth plan in the early hours of Wednesday after a bad-tempered cabinet meeting that exposed divisions in the ruling coalition and fuelled speculation about a government collapse.
The infighting overshadowed media coverage of the “growth decree” which called for tax breaks and investment incentives and for simplified procedures for public tenders.
The ruling parties, the right-wing League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, are feuding as they compete for votes ahead of European Parliament elections on May 26, stoking investor fears that the government could fall.
The government had presented the decree as a landmark in its efforts to kickstart Italian growth, which has lagged euro zone peers for two decades, but it instead served to underline an intensifying feud between the coalition partners’ leaders.
5-Star chief Luigi Di Maio showed up for the meeting more than an hour late, after using a TV appearance to call for a junior League minister to resign over a corruption scandal. League leader Matteo Salvini has refused to sack the minister.
“It’s official – there are two governments,” read the front-page headline in national daily newspaper La Repubblica.
Di Maio and Salvini repeatedly say they want the alliance to continue even as they attack each other on a range of issues, and they have shown no willingness to compromise over the future of the League official at the centre of the scandal.
Armando Siri, a transport ministry undersecretary and economic adviser to Salvini, has been put under investigation for allegedly accepting bribes to promote the interests of renewable energy firms. Siri denies any wrongdoing.
“I plan to govern for a full mandate and I have no intention of sending Italians to (early) elections,” Salvini told reporters on Wednesday.
He added that he would not push for a cabinet reshuffle to have more weight in government after the EU elections, where the League is likely to be the largest party, opinion polls suggest.
He said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte – an academic who is from neither ruling party but is close to 5-Star – had not asked for Siri’s resignation. Shortly afterwards Conte said he would speak to Siri, without giving further details.
DEBT RELIEF CHANGE
The growth decree contained few surprises, though the dispute was reflected in a change to one of the decree’s major measures – debt relief for the municipality of Rome, which is run by 5-Star.
The decree was less generous than an original draft of the plan after criticism from the League.
Cabinet also broadened the scope of its plan to compensate savers hit by the country’s recent banking crisis, making the money available to those with an annual income of up to 35,000 euros ($39,000) or with assets of up 200,000 euros.
The asset test was raised from 100,000 euros in the original draft, but it later emerged the amended scheme with the higher threshold would be conditional on EU approval.
The decree also gave the green light for the government to potentially take an equity stake in any vehicle set up to rescue loss-making airline Alitalia. The government is desperate to save the carrier and avoid mass layoffs.
Italy last year unveiled a big-spending budget for 2019, rattling the euro and other financial markets, but it has so far had little impact on growth. The economy slipped into technical recession at the end of 2018 and is now barely expanding.
Italy, the euro zone’s second-most indebted nation after Greece, had public debts equalling 132.2 percent of GDP in 2018, up from 131.4 percent in 2017.
($1 = 0.8923 euros)
(Editing by Giselda Vagnoni, Mark Bendeich and Alison Williams)
FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Official Presentation of ATP Team Competition – The O2, London, Britain – November 15, 2018 ATP Executive Chairman & President, Chris Kermode during a press conference Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
April 24, 2019
(Reuters) – Turin’s Pala Alpitour stadium was named on Wednesday as the new venue for the ATP Finals from 2021-2025, drawing a line under London’s long tenure as host of the year-ending tournament.
Men’s governing body the ATP said in a statement on that Turin was picked ahead of Manchester, Singapore, Tokyo and London, marking the first time in the tournament’s 50-year history that it will be staged in Italy.
The Pala Alpitour, opened in 2005 for the Winter Olympics, is Italy’s largest indoor sporting arena, with a seating capacity of 12,350.
“Italy provides us with one of the strongest and most established tennis markets in Europe and has a proven track record for hosting world class tennis events,” Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman and President, said in a statement.
The event features the world’s top eight singles players and doubles teams and offered $8.5 million in prize money last year, when Alexander Zverev stunned Djokovic to win the title.
“We look forward to bringing the ATP’s flagship season-ending event to tennis’s growing fanbase in Italy for the first time,” Briton Kermode added.
Milan has hosted the Next Gen Finals for the top eight players aged 21 and under for the past two years, while Rome hosts a Masters 1000 clay court event in May in the buildup to the French Open.
Turin has a hard act to follow as the ATP Finals have been hugely popular with players and fans at the O2 Arena, where aggregate attendances have routinely reached a quarter of a million each year since London began hosting the tournament — the jewel in the ATP’s crown — in 2009.
Despite this success, the ATP announced in August that it was inviting bids from other potential hosts, a move backed by Novak Djokovic, the world number one and President of the ATP Player Council who has won the title five times in London.
“It’s still a few years away but I know that the players will be very excited to compete there, and I also hope to be part of what will be a very special event,” the Serb said in Wednesday’s statement.
Turin will become the 15th city to host the tournament, which since starting in Tokyo in 1970 has had a 13-year stint in New York, a six-year stay in Frankfurt and spells in Hanover, Lisbon, Sydney, Houston, Shanghai and London.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman in London and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, Editing by Simon Jennings/Amlan Chakraborty/Alexander Smith)