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Posts Tagged ‘merger’

Merger of Somali militants could mean more attacks

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:30 am

 Somalia’s weak, U.N.-backed government could face an increase in attacks from Islamist insurgents after the two largest groups dropped their running feud and merged, analysts and fighters said Monday.

The announcement on Sunday of a merger between al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam means the two won’t waste resources fighting one another, and will instead concentrate on fighting the Mogadishu-based government and the African Union troops who protect it, said Sheik Mohamed Osman Arus, Hizbul Islam’s head of operations.

“The two groups have already shared ammunition, field clinics and fought together,” Arus said. “But having a united leadership will mean the end of the puppet government and the African dogs,” a term militants use for the 8,000 African Union troops in Mogadishu.

Some of the 1000 soldiers of Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) trained by Uganda and European Union at their passing out parade, in Bihanga about 350kms west of Uganda capital Kampala, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Since its establishment in 2007, al-Shabab has sought to defeat any Islamist rival. The group — Somalia’s most dangerous — increased attacks on Hizbul Islam in recent months and overtook several towns Hizbul Islam once controlled, military momentum that hastened the merger.

Abdirahim Isse Adow, the director of the government-run Radio Mogadishu, saw the merger as an opportunity for the government.

“It will be easier for the government to fight one group instead of fighting two different parties,” he said. “The public got fed up with al-Shabab’s tactics, and now the government can present itself as the only option in the market of winning hearts and minds.”

Al-Shabab imposes a harsh and conservative reading of Islam that bans movies and TV. Punishments include the chopping off of hands of thieves and death by stoning of adulterers. Several hundred foreign fighters — some of them veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts — populate its ranks.

Hizbul Islam has previously condemned al-Shabab’s use of suicide bombers and summary executions. Its founder, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, also criticized al-Shabab’s public pledge of allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Hizbul Islam is widely seen as having a more nationalist agenda than al-Shabab, which has been heavily influenced by Wahhabi Islam ideology.

Arus, the Hizbul Islam commander, said his group united with al-Shabab under its own terms because continued fighting would only degrade both organizations, giving “more power to the enemy.” He said that 22 Hizbul Islam leaders met in Mogadishu on Friday and Saturday and decided on joining al-Shabab.

“We said to ourselves fighting al-Shabab will only lead to the Islamists’ downfall, as those apostates (the government and its backers) will take advantage of our weakness,” Arus said. “So we decided to unite with al-Shabab and strengthen the Mujahedeen. We will advise those hardline elements in it from within.”

Omar Abdirahman Mohamed, a political commentator on Mogadishu radio stations, said the merger wasn’t equal, but that al-Shabab “gobbled up” Hizbul Islam.

“The merger is a not a sea change in Somali politics,” he said. “I don’t think that their merger will affect the government significantly because they were already government enemies. If it brings something it is that it will only make reconciliation efforts more difficult because the anti-peace al-Shabab has taken over the opposition.”

Rashid Abdi, a Somali analyst with the International Crisis Group, downplayed the alliance, calling it “tactical.”

“I don’t think it can have a serious military effect on the government because Hizbul Islam has been weakened by al-Shabab and desertions,” he said. “I’m skeptical about its life span.”

Source: SGGP

Australian regulator okays Singapore bourse merger

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

Australia’s competition watchdog said it will not oppose an 8.3 billion US dollar merger between the Australian and Singapore stock exchanges to create the world’s fifth biggest bourse.

In a move which brings the deal one step closer, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said a Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX) and Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) merger would not substantially lessen competition.

“In Australia, SGX does not compete with ASX for trading, clearing or settlement services,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

“ASX and SGX do compete for listing services, but only to a limited extent.”

Granite facade of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in Sydney is seen in this file photo

The deal, which is hoped will create a regional trading hub to rival Hong Kong, is also being reviewed by Australia’s securities and foreign investment watchdogs, as well as the central bank, and must be approved by the Treasurer.

Australia’s parliament, where the centre-left government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard holds just a one-vote majority in the lower house — will then have to pass a bill that would allow the deal to go ahead.

The ASX welcomed the decision.

“Our focus continues to be on satisfying the regulatory process that is well under way,” an ASX spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it focused its investigation on whether the proposed merger would affect a joint venture agreement between SGX and another company, Chi-X Global.

But it said the Singapore exchange’s 50-50 venture with Chi-X Global would not alter Chi-X’s wholly owned subsidiary Chi-X Australia’s incentives for establishing a trading venue to compete with the ASX.

The ACCC also rejected market concerns about access by third parties to the ASX’s market data, clearing and settlement facilities for the purpose of providing competing platforms for trading Australian-listed shares.

The Singapore bid has sparked a strong political backlash in Canberra, where key independent lawmakers have questioned Singapore’s human rights and democracy record and argued that the deal would disadvantage Australia.

But Australia’s stock exchange chief has lauded the proposal, saying the nation would benefit from a stock exchange with a heftier market capitalisation of 12.3 billion US dollars.

The deal would increase the size and diversity of options for investors and reduce costs for listed companies — “an outcome unequivocally in the national interest”, ASX chief executive Robert Elstone said earlier this month.

“The need for additional scale and regional relevance makes ASX’s participation in exchange consolidation a mandatory, not an elective, matter for all of its stakeholders, and not just its shareholders,” he said.

Elstone said the merger was the “natural competitive and regulatory evolution of Australia’s capital markets” given the rise of Asia as their economies industrialise.

The competition watchdog had been expected to approve the deal which is scheduled to complete in mid-2011, but one analyst at Wilson HTM Securities, Andrew Hills, said the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and the government would prove greater obstacles.

“The big hurdle is FIRB and passing both houses of parliament,” Hills told Dow Jones Newswires.

Source: SGGP

BA, Iberia sign merger deal to create global giant

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2010 at 11:59 am

LONDON (AFP) – British Airways and Spanish flag carrier Iberia on Thursday announced a merger deal to create one of the world’s biggest airlines to compete more effectively in the fast-consolidating aviation sector.

The tie-up would create Europe’s second-biggest airline by market capitalisation after Lufthansa, combining Iberia’s strong position in Latin America with BA’s presence in Africa, Asia and North America.

British Airways and Spanish flag carrier (AFP file) Iberia announced a merger deal to create one of the world’s biggest airlines to compete more effectively in the fast-consolidating aviation sector.

“British Airways and Iberia have today taken a further step towards creating a new leading European airline group by signing their merger agreement,” the two loss-making airlines said in a joint statement.

“The new company will be one of the world’s largest airline groups with 408 aircraft flying to 200 destinations and carrying more than 58 million passengers per year.

“It has been structured so that it can take advantage of further consolidation in the global aviation industry,” they said, adding that it would benefit both airlines’ customers, employees and shareholders.

The landmark deal would create annual savings of around 400 million euros (533 million dollars) by the fifth year of the deal.

The tie-up, which requires regulatory and shareholder approvals, is expected to be completed by late 2010 and follows a preliminary accord in November.

“The merged company will provide customers with a larger combined network,” said BA chief executive Willie Walsh.

“It will also have greater potential for further growth by optimising the dual hubs of London and Madrid and provide combined investment in new products and services.”

Iberia chairman Antonio Vasquez also hailed the deal as a major step forward, as both airlines seek to avoid being sidelined by rivals Air France-KLM and Lufthansa.

“This is an important step in the process towards creating one of the world’s leading global airlines that will be better equipped to compete with other major airlines and participate in future industry consolidation,” Vasquez said.

Under the agreement, BA and Iberia will be grouped under a new holding company, known as International Airlines Group, which will be quoted on stock exchanges in London and Madrid.

However, both airlines will retain their current operations and individual brands.

Iberia will keep the right to terminate the merger deal if BA’s pension recovery plan is deemed to be “materially detrimental to the ecomomic premises of the merger.”

The BA-Iberia merger comes as the global downturn and the rise of low-cost airlines drives airline alliances and steep cost cutting.

Both groups have suffered steep losses as the global recession slammed the brakes on demand for air travel.

At the same time, BA has faced industrial action from cabin crew over its cost-cutting plans that are aimed at stemming losses.

The pair had signed a preliminary deal last November after lengthy negotiations — but Iberia said at the time it would back out of the agreement if BA’s giant pension deficit problem were not resolved.

Under the initial agreement set out in November, BA will own 56 percent of the new company while Iberia will hold 44 percent. Walsh would retain his position as chief executive, while Iberia would secure the chairmanship.

In addition, the new company would be headquartered in Madrid, but its operational base would be in London.

Rival groups had reacted in anger to the deal, with Ryanair comparing the merger to “two drunks trying to prop each other up.”

Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, had argued that it will increase BA’s dominance at London’s Heathrow airport.

News of the BA-Iberia merger comes after US media reported late Tuesday that United Airlines and US Airways were in merger talks that could lead to the creation of one of the world’s largest airlines.

Source: SGGP