FILE PHOTO: Cycling – Tour de France – Rest day – Carcassonne, France, July 23, 2018. The logo of Team Sky is seen on a bus on the second rest day. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
March 19, 2019
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s hugely successful Team Sky has been bought out by chemicals giant Ineos and will change its to Team Ineos from May this year, the cycling team confirmed on Tuesday.
Ineos is owned by Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe.
Broadcaster Sky said last December that it would end its involvement with the team that has won six Tour de France’s since it was founded by Dave Brailsford in 2010.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
FILE PHOTO: Lockheed Martin’s logo is seen during Japan Aerospace 2016 air show in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
March 19, 2019
BERLIN (Reuters) – A German military helicopter tender likely to be fought out between U.S. arms makers Lockheed Martin and Boeing will get “mandatory” funding of 1.61 billion euros ($1.8 billion) under German budget plans, a government document shows.
Some lawmakers and industry officials had worried that the long-awaited tender could be postponed because Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen secured only half the 4 billion euro increase in military spending she had sought for 2020.
However the document, which is due to be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet this week, singled out the heavy-lift helicopter as the only major arms program on a list of “mandatory elements” of a new four-year budget plan.
The helicopter program is expected to cost Germany around 4 billion euros ($4.54 billion) in the longer term, a rich prize for the winning bidder.
Germany’s defense ministry has previously said it expects to choose either of two U.S. helicopter models, the twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook helicopter built by Boeing, or the new CH-53K King Stallion built by Lockheed’s Sikorsky helicopter unit.
Procurement of the 45-60 helicopters will continue beyond 2023, which is why the four-year plan budgets for a smaller sum.
The Defence Ministry issued a pre-solicitation notice for the new helicopter in February, saying it expected to issue a formal request for proposals in the second half of 2019.
A ministry spokesman declined to comment on the finance ministry document or any specific funding requests.
“We’re at the beginning of the process,” he said.
German government officials will debate and refine the budget request in coming months, and changes are possible, but the fact that the helicopter program was designated mandatory should prevent a postponement of the program, experts said.
Another big arms project that was to be launched this year, an 8 billion euro MEADS missile-defense system, to be built by Europe’s MBDA, owned by Airbus, Italy’s Leonardo and Britain’s BAE Systems, and Lockheed, was not included on the mandatory funding list.
Also absent were four new multi-role MKS 180 warships expected to cost 4.5 billion euros ($5.11 billion), along with a option for two additional ships.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke, Andrea Shalal and Sabine Siebold; Editing by Alexander Smith)
FILE PHOTO: Mar 7, 2019; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) runs to third base after hitting a triple against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
March 19, 2019
Mike Trout is on the verge of a 12-year, $430 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Angels, ESPN reported Tuesday.
Trout, 27, is a two-time American League Most Valuable Player and was scheduled to become a free agent in 2020. The agreement, per ESPN, tacks on 10 years to the final two seasons remaining on Trout’s $144.5 million agreement with the Angels.
The deal would smash the massive contract signed by Bryce Harper — 13 years, $330 million with the Philadelphia Phillies — on March 2.
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke had the MLB record annual average salary at $34.4 million. Trout would eclipse that mark with $36 million AAV.
Boxer Canelo Alvarez signed a contract with DAZN worth a minimum of $365 million.
Trout has a staggering 64.3 Wins Above Replacement through his age-26 season, which is far beyond any player at his age in Major League Baseball history.
The 24th pick in the 2009 amateur draft, Trout has made the playoffs only once with the Angels in eight seasons. Speculation built that he could bounce to the Phillies when his contract expired — Trout grew up less than an hour away in New Jersey — but the Angels declared their commitment to the superstar.
Trout, who has a career .307 batting average with 240 home runs, 648 RBIs, 793 runs and 189 stolen bases in 1,065 career games, also finished second in the MVP voting four times.
–Field Level Media
Lauryn Overhultz | Columnist
Julia Roberts took a firm stance against the actions of those involved in the college admissions scandal.
The “Pretty Woman” actress weighed in on the scandal while promoting her new drama “Ben Is Back” in the U.K.
Roberts and her husband have three kids together, 14-year old twins and an 11-year old son. They try to keep the experience relatively normal for their kids, Roberts said.
“My husband and I are very aligned on that front, I think that we live a very normal experience with our children. Obviously we have advantages that we didn’t have as children,” Roberts told ITV. “But I think that’s the unique part of it, coming from the childhood I have. You do need to know how to make your bed and do your laundry and make one meal. These are important life skills.”
“They have to run their own race,” she continued. “They have to have their own experience.” (RELATED: Lori Loughlin’s Daughter Loses Sephora Collaboration Amid College Admissions Scandal)
Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were both charged in the massive admissions scandal for allegedly paying for their children to gain admission to certain colleges. Loughlin allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes so her daughters could secure admissions to the University of Southern California. Huffman reportedly paid $15,000 to have someone take the SAT test for her daughter.
Source: The Daily Caller
FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Red Cross workers carry a body bag with the remains of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash victims at the scene of a plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
March 19, 2019
By Omar Mohammed
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Financiers, passengers and industry partners are, for now, still backing Ethiopian Airlines’ quest to become Africa’s dominant carrier, despite a March 10 crash that killed 157 people.
The causes of the Flight 302 tragedy will likely take months to establish. While much of the international focus has been on U.S. planemaker Boeing and its 737 MAX 8 jet, the airline’s reputation could also hinge on the results of the investigation.
Although crash inquiries focus on preventing future accidents rather than attributing liability, any findings that the carrier fell short in plane maintenance or piloting could be damaging.
For the present, however, passenger confidence in Ethiopian Airlines, long regarded as one of the most reliable in Africa, has remained steady, according to the company. Cancellation and booking rates are unchanged since the crash, said spokesman Asrat Begashaw.
“We are operating as normal,” he told Reuters. “Our brand is keeping its level, and we are okay.”
Two banking sources with knowledge of the matter said that, barring a major new twist in the investigation with long-term fallout, banks were still comfortable lending to Ethiopian Airlines.
“Ethiopian is a solid company,” said one, an official from an international bank that helped finance the acquisition of some Ethiopian Airlines planes. “No reason to change the way the bank sees its credit risk at this point.”
A vote of confidence from lenders is important for the airline because its years of rapid expansion have largely been financed by international borrowing.
The second source, a top European aviation banker, said Ethiopian Airlines was “a good airline, with a good reputation”.
“So unless it (the crash) is a major problem of piloting or maintenance – and it is far too early to talk about that – they will still have access to financing,” the source added.
The sources declined to be identified because the matters are confidential.
Ethiopian Airlines has borrowed from foreign banks including JP Morgan, ING Capital and Societe Generale over the past decade. It also has outstanding bonds worth $540 million, though none due until 2024, Refinitiv data shows.
The borrowing helped finance the acquisition of stakes in or establish partnerships with at least four African carriers, establishing hubs to feed traffic into Addis Ababa. Last year, the Ethiopian capital overtook Dubai as the main gateway for long-haul passengers into Africa.
The airline’s fleet grew from 35 planes in 2007 to 111 in 2019. It now flies to more than 119 international destinations, up from 52 a decade ago.
The expansion has made the state-owned carrier, founded in 1945, the most profitable major airline on the continent. Ethiopian’s net profit in the 2017/18 financial year rose to $233 million from $229 million the previous year; operating revenue jumped 43 percent to $3.7 billion.
Last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced plans to sell a minority stake in the airline as part of a broad strategy to open up the country to foreign investors.
Industry analysts said it was too early to evaluate the impact of the crash on the airline’s long-term plans but said, for now, its reputation remained largely intact.
“It’s a very strong management team, with good vision,” said Nawal Taneja, an author and professor at Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies. “We’ve got to look at the strength of the airline as a whole, not just this one incident.”
PARTNERS, BOEING BOOKINGS
Those who want to travel across Africa have few options other than flying. Conflict, poor roads, and limited cross-border train transport often make travel by land difficult.
Analysts said the crash was unlikely to damage Ethiopian’s partnerships with African carriers, key to a strategy that helped increase passenger numbers from 2.5 million a decade ago to 10.6 million last year, or with other industry players.
One such partner is ASKY, a Togo-based carrier which Ethiopian Airlines helped launch in 2010.
“Ethiopian’s accident has not affected our partnership in any way,” said Lionel Tsoto, the airline’s head of public relations. “We continue just as before.”
Global aviation leasing firm GECAS said the airline was a “close and valued partner who we look forward to working with in the future”.
The crash, which saw the Nairobi-bound flight go down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, triggered a global grounding of 737 MAX planes, wiping about 10 percent off Boeing’s share price. GRAPHIC: http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/testfiles/boeing737maxseries
Investigators have noted similarities with another deadly crash in Indonesia five months ago involving a plane of the same type owned by Lion Air, but safety officials stress the investigation is at an early stage.
Ethiopian Airlines, which grounded its handful of remaining 737 MAX planes, said it would decide whether to cancel orders for 29 others after a preliminary investigation.
Analysts said it was unlikely that the carrier would cancel the orders, worth $3.5 billion at the current list price, because Boeing would have to fix any problems before regulators permit the jet to fly again.
Boeing will be keen to retain the airline as a customer; more than half of Ethiopian’s fleet are Boeing jets.
“Ethiopian have been very loyal to Boeing in the past,” said Phil Seymour, chief executive of the IBA Group, a Surrey-based aviation consultancy.
“They will be in control of the conversation with Boeing now,” he added. “I would suspect that the business decision is to stick with the order.”
(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher and Inti Landauro in Paris, Rachel Armstrong in London, Maggie Fick in Addis Ababa and John Zodzi in Lome; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Alexandra Zavis and Pravin Char)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. and European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
March 19, 2019
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Tuesday that Washington’s “selfish” approach to trade was not sustainable, but it was too early to say that EU-U.S. trade talks were doomed to fail.
The Trump administration has imposed stiff tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum and set off a trade war with China in a bid to redress what it sees as unfavorable terms that contribute to a U.S. trade deficit of over half a trillion dollars a year.
The Commission, which negotiates trade agreements on behalf of the 28-nation European Union, has been in talks with U.S. authorities since last July, seeking to clinch a deal on industrial goods trade.
EU governments are now discussing the details of a negotiating mandate for the Commission, while Washington has until mid-May to decide whether to make good on President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on imports of European cars.
“It is too early to say that our trade discussions are doomed to fail,” Katainen told a regular news briefing.
“There are discussions going on on several levels and … we can end up having some sort of an agreement with the U.S. on trade, but let’s not go deeper than this,” he said, adding that the scope of negotiations had to be clear and that a deal would require a lot of good will and political capital on both sides.
Asked about a reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Katainen said it was problematic and that attempts to get it done were like pushing a rope.
“Japan, China and the EU are willing to reform the WTO, the U.S. has not been that interested, but they are willing to cooperate,” he said.
“Even though the U.S. authorities may think that selfishness is better than cooperation, it is not a sustainable way of thinking. We need better, rules-based trade in the future where the international community sets the rules,” he said.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress last week that the WTO was using an “out of date” playbook despite dramatic changes including the rise of China and the evolution of the internet.
He said Washington was nonetheless working “diligently” to negotiate new WTO rules to address these problems.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
FILE PHOTO: Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after testifying before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young
March 19, 2019
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal authorities sought warrants to investigate Michael Cohen’s email accounts in July 2017, nine months before the office and hotel room of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer were raided, according to documents made public on Tuesday.
Emails were sought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which is probing Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as by the FBI, dating back as far as June 2015, according to the documents.
The nearly 900 pages of documents provide new insights into the investigations into Cohen, who had been Trump’s personal lawyer and self-described fixer for more than a decade, and more detailed accounts of his financial dealings.
They were released after U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Monday ordered federal prosecutors to make redacted versions public, in response to requests by various news media organizations.
Cohen began cooperating with federal investigators soon after the April 2018 raids on his office and hotel room.
He eventually pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, including campaign finance violations in connection with payments of hush money to silence two women who claimed to have had sexual relationships with Trump.
The women included Stormy Daniels, a porn actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, who later sued Trump unsuccessfully to end her hush money agreement.
Cohen was sentenced in December to serve three years in prison. Since pleading guilty, he has publicly turned on Trump, telling a U.S. House of Representatives committee last month that his former boss was a “con man” and “cheat.”
Trump has denied having sexual relationships with the women, and said his campaign did not collude with Russia. Moscow has denied meddling in the 2016 election.
The filings showed how the FBI made extensive use of its access to Cohen’s Apple iCloud account, which allowed him to coordinate his work across several devices including an iPhone, iPad Mini and laptop.
They detailed how investigators believed money going to Cohen, including to his firm Essential Consultants, was for political consulting, including from international clients with issues pending before the Trump administration.
Among the payments Cohen was believed to have received was $600,000 from AT&T Inc for consulting about “political issues, including net neutrality, the merger between AT&T and Time Warner and tax reform,” and $583,333 from an investment firm controlled by Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg.
FBI agents said they were able to locate where Cohen was staying by using internet protocol, or IP, addresses attached to those devices.
Much of the discussion about campaign finance issues was redacted.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson, Anthony Lin, David Morgan and Andy Sullivan in Washington, and Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)