HOUSTON, TX–(Marketwire – Feb 26, 2013) – Intergraph has published a new case study on how CAESAR II and PV Elite are helping Ford, Bacon & Davis LLC perform fast and accurate stress analyses of piping, vessels, and related equipment to ensure that its clients’ facilities are designed to code, avoiding potentially costly errors, delays, and risks during construction and operation. The case discusses how the ease-of-use and built-in intelligence of CAESAR II and PV Elite are helping the Ford, Bacon & Davis entry-level and even more experienced stress engineers develop the knowledge and experience they need for their jobs, enhancing productivity for the firm and its clients and other stakeholders. It also describes how the software’s user-friendly output format, color-coded stress visuals, and animated models provide a visual representation of all of the stresses, making it easier for a non-technical client to quickly see the importance of designing to code. This speeds up the reviews and client approvals significantly.
Evan Davis on Liberia’s development frustrations
See original here: Liberia’s development frustrations
The takeover by commodities trader Glencore of mining giant Xstrata has turned unfriendly. But why does this merger matter?
Like former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond, the bosses of Glencore and Xstrata are a breed apart. These mining and commodities trading giants, which are in the midst of a £37bn merger, have ridden an extraordinary boom in demand over the last 10 years and creamed off much of the profits for themselves and their shareholders.
Based offshore and paying little tax, Glencore orchestrates a business that few people would understand, least of all politicians who must judge whether the merger creates a monopolistic industry. Exotic derivatives and super-fast computer systems are deployed to maximise profits. Like the bankers, commodities traders argue their sophisticated systems enhance the smooth working of market capitalism. For those not in the habit of reading business pages, here are five reasons why you should care about this merger.
1. Pay and wealth
Bankers once enjoyed the salaries and bonuses commanded by mining company bosses. Mick Davis, the Xstrata chief executive, is already the best paid boss in FTSE 100, taking home £18.5m last year. Until last week, when the merger was still friendly, he was due to receive a £30m golden handcuff to keep him at his desk. Now Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg, who owns a £5bn stake in his company, has performed an extraordinary U-turn. He has upped his offer for Xstrata and made Davis’s exit a condition of the deal, though Davis will likely leave with £8m in cash and £38m in shares.
The two men are well known to each other. Davis and Glasenberg met at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and decided to cement their already strong business relationship into a merger of the two companies over a dinner in London last December.
Droughts and floods have damaged this year’s food harvest, though conflicting reports of the overall effect on global stocks often make it difficult to fathom the shortfall.
Nevertheless, foodstuff prices are already up more than 20% since the spring and trading is frantic as a glut of panicky stories flood the media. Soybean prices are above the peak reached in the last food crisis in 2008.
Glencore has grown over 20 years to be one the biggest food traders in the world, dominating the trade in wheat, maize and barley, edible oils and sugar. The head of Glencore’s food trading business created a storm when he said last month that the chronic drought affecting the US midwest would be “good for Glencore” because it would be able to exploit soaring prices.
Chris Mahoney, the trader’s director of agricultural products, said: “In terms of the outlook for the balance of the year, the environment is a good one. High prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness, a lot of arbitrage opportunities [the purchase and sale of an asset in order to profit from price differences in different markets].”
3. Metals and Minerals
A merged company would be the No 1 producer of coal and zinc and the biggest independent producer of copper within four years. The European Union is understood to be concerned the company could become so powerful that its trading policies will influence the price of basic metals. Xstrata has a huge investment policy, with plans to open new mines from Peru to Namibia, increasing production by 50%, though the global economic slowdown has forced the company to mothball iron ore mines in Australia.
4. Corporate governance
Xstrata is based in Zug, Switzerland, for tax purposes while keeping a corporate office in London. It’s the “best of both worlds” favoured by hedge funds and a growing number of global businesses. Glencore follows a similar model, keeping most of its business in Switzerland’s Baar canton, while being registered in Jersey with some 50 offices in 40 countries. Glencore was a 400-strong partnership until it became a stock market listed firm a couple of years ago. As such it paid no corporation tax. Under new arrangements for companies with large operations overseas, it is expected to continue paying virtually no UK corporation tax. It is also accused by aid charities of avoiding tax in Zambia and other countries where it operates, which it denies.
Mining ranks as one of the most corrupt industries, according to corruption watchdog Transparency International. Most minerals are found in developing world countries and poverty tends to influence the demands of local politicians and offials for bribes to gain planning permission an export licences.
The merged company would be the fourth largest miner in the world and as such would be in the frontline in combating corruption. Both companies say in their annual reports they will not tolerate bribery or corruption of any kind. But Glencore was fined €500,000 by a Belgian court earlier this summer after a European commission official was found providing confidential information on agriculture markets to the company. Global Witness, the campaigning charity, has asked Glencore to explain potentially corrupt deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The allegations, which were the subject of a BBC Panorama film, include the use of child labour. The charity asked for details of the company’s relationship with an Israeli businessman who is key to its substantial mining investments in the country.
Xstrata is not immune from controversy. Protesters in the Peruvian city of Cuzco have accused the company of contaminating local water supplies and sickening farm animals, which the company denies.
London’s reputation as a mature financial centre is harmed by the closed-door manoeuvrings and shifting positions over what could be a globally significant new company
Xstrata’s independent shareholders must feel exhausted and baffled. The Glencore merger saga had already run for seven months before it was transformed on Friday into a possible hostile takeover battle. And now the mining group’s board finds itself in a bizarre spot: arguing that a share-exchange ratio of 2.8 times was adequate for a merger, but that a higher proposal of 3.05 times is not enough when presented as a takeover.
But even that assumes Glencore’s proposal is firm. The trader’s chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, had months to arrange his cards in a presentable fashion but didn’t even bother to issue an outline version of his offer on Friday. The skimpy details were instead made public by Xstrata.
Outsiders are left to guess what Glasenberg discussed in a Mayfair hotel with a single shareholder, Qatar Holding, late on Thursday night – with Tony Blair in attendance. Take your pick: Qatar is either ready to back Glencore at the revised price, or furious that Glasenberg wants to dispatch Xstrata’s Mick Davis and claim the chief executive’s job for himself.
This is no way to conduct a merger or takeover in a supposedly grown-up market such as London. We’re talking here about a possible £56bn mining and trading colossus with huge positions in the global coal, zinc, copper and nickel markets. Transparency should be everything. Instead, Friday was a shambles – and the Takeover Panel should be asking itself why it allowed Glencore to stay silent.
Who will eventually prevail? The answer, of course, depends on what Qatar values more: the improved share ratio, or Davis. Glasenberg’s hardball stance is that it can’t have both.
The saga may have more twists to come (and nothing is certain until Glencore gets round to tabling a proper proposal) but Glasenberg has one key advantage: he offers a clear ending to the tangled tale.
Xstrata’s board, like its shareholders, must also feel weary and confused. After the events of Friday, is it really credible that the two companies could return to their old life – that is to say, a life where Glasenberg and co own 35% of Xstrata’s shares, have a veto over capital expenditure programmes and act as the marketing agent for much of the output from its mines?
The personal relationship between Glasenberg and Davis, which has been prickly on occasions in the past, is surely now shattered beyond repair. The spirit of togetherness had already started to evaporate in recent weeks, even when both sides were officially still pursuing a happy “merger of equals”. The Glencore camp criticised Xstrata’s heavy investment in so-called “greenfield” sites, arguing that the returns don’t match those of its own preferred “brownfield” extensions. Xstrata countered that the real risks come when, like Glencore, you expose yourself to the instability of countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Xstrata’s non-executive directors are also a discredited crew. Chairman Sir John Bond and senior independent director David Rough proposed a retention package that was so generous to Davis and his top colleagues that it provoked fury among shareholders and delayed the vote on the deal. If Xstrata survives as an independent company, the pair would probably have to be replaced to clear the air.
Qatar, when it surveys this mess, may decide that its best interests lie in backing clarity – meaning Glencore. It can, after all, boast that it forced Glasenberg to improve his offer.
But, in truth, there are no real winners. Xstrata’s board should have held out for better terms in the first place and the executives should not have claimed those absurd payments. Glencore may end up with an empty victory – the assets, but not the necessary management. In which case, Qatar may regret stirring the hornet’s nest.
Who would be King?
Start polishing up your CV: George Osborne is putting the finishing touches to the job ad for the governorship of the Bank of England.
Sir Mervyn King’s term ends next summer, after an extraordinary tenure in which the Bank has faced the very real prospect of a complete collapse of the banking system, cut interest rates to the lowest level since it was founded in 1694, and undertaken £375bn worth of quantitative easing.
His successor will need to be both a top-drawer economist, able to hold their own in the intellectually rigorous environment of the Bank; and a City-savvy regulator, ready to take on the role of overseeing the banking sector that is being handed back to Threadneedle Street. He (or, perish the thought, she) will also need to be a formidable manager, who can oversee a radical expansion in the Bank, and shrug off the reputation it gained under Sir Mervyn for being slow off the mark when the crisis hit.
Six months ago, there was a crowded field of impressive candidates; but a series of scandals and investigations has placed a question mark over many.
Paul Tucker, one of King’s deputies, faced a tough grilling by MPs at the Treasury select committee over his role in policing the way the Libor rate was set. Tucker held his own and shouldn’t be written off, but he is no longer the heir apparent. Peter Sands of Standard Chartered, John Varley, ex-Barclays, and (Lord) Stephen Green, ex-HSBC, have all been tarred by scandals at their respective banks in recent months.
Still very much in the running are the FSA’s thoughtful boss (Lord) Adair Turner, and (Lord) Gus O’Donnell, the consummate civil servant. But with Spencer Dale, the Bank’s own chief economist, delivering a sharp warning in a speech today[Sat]about the risks of keeping interest rates too low for too long, and saying that “a widening gap may develop between what is expected of central banks and what they can realistically deliver”, both could be forgiven for deciding against submitting their CVs.
Executive pay heads for a fall
With major companies still licking their wounds from the bruising “shareholder spring”, executives are now experiencing the beginning of what could well be dubbed the shareholder autumn.
Last week, nearly a third of investors voted against the remuneration report of packaging maker DS Smith over the size of bonuses for the chief executive and chairman. At Dixons Retail, a fifth of investors voted against pay policies that included a one-off share award for chief executive Sebastian James.
The icing on the cake, though, was the rejection of a share scheme for Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, who stood to receive a £26m award of shares. The resolution never even got to a vote, which required 75%
Tony Blair’s intervention has seen a new page turned in the saga of the mining and commodities giants
Finally, it took the intervention of Tony Blair to break the impasse – a standoff that almost everyone assumed had ended the £56bn deal that Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg had been dreaming of for five years.
On Thursday night in London, the former prime minister brought together Glasenberg and the oil-rich Qatari investors who had been ready to kill off his masterplan to merge his global commodity trading house with the mining giant Xstrata. That deal would create a group that is the world’s largest producer of zinc, controls just under a third of the coal used for power stations and trades wheat, sugar and oil in more than 40 countries, putting it at the centre of the global trade in vital commodities.
The previously little known billionaire had endured the publicity generated by floating Glencore last year mainly in order to pursue the “merger of equals” with Xstrata. He even seemed prepared to give up being chief executive of the newly created commodities powerhouse, ceding the role to his longstanding friend and rival Mick Davis, the Xstrata boss.
Indeed, so friendly was the arrangement that Davis was lined up for a £50m retention package, and it was there that the snags started. Investors, already buoyed by a newly discovered sense of rebellion in the “shareholder spring”, were furious at Davis’s potential rewards. But when Glasenberg went on the offensive to defend the merger during a speech to the London dinner of the Melbourne Mining Club in June, he ended by courting more controversy.
“Thank God my partners were entrepreneurs,” he said. “They want to work in a company that looks towards the long term – that wants to take advantage of a cheap asset that comes available … So really, that’s the real reason we went public”.
It was already known before Glasenberg took to the stage that Glencore’s listing had been designed to create a vehicle that could use paper, rather than cash, to buy access to natural resources. But what Glasenberg also appeared to be saying was that he thought Xstrata was cheap – so cheap, in fact, that he was willing to give up running the company in which he was to be the largest shareholder. The problem with such a line was obvious: other Xstrata shareholders might also suspect that Glasenberg could be underpaying. The Qataris certainly did.
In February, when Xstrata and Glencore confirmed one of the sector’s worst kept secrets and finally announced plans for a merger, the proposed terms of 2.8 Glencore shares for every Xstrata share did appear slightly stingy.
Sitting quietly in the background was Qatar Holding – the sovereign wealth fund that owns Harrods plus large stakes in Barclays and Sainsbury’s, among other high profile investments. It then held around 3% of Xstrata and that stake began to edge up.
Then, just under three weeks after Glasenberg’s after-dinner speech, the bombshell was dropped. After diverting spats over executive pay, price was back at the top of the agenda. Xstrata’s announcement of a revision in the controversial terms of Davis’s retention contract almost directly coincided with a statement from Qatar that it would require Glencore to pay more. Much more. Rather than exchange every Xstrata share for 2.8 Glencore shares, QH wanted 3.25.
Even in an industry used to explosives, This was dynamite. By now Qatar held 10% of the miner and as Glencore was barred from voting its own 34% on the merger, it immediately looked like a blocking stake. That seemed even more true by the end of last month, by which time Qatar owned 12% of Xstrata. Even so, Glasenberg – who had started insisting Xstrata was not a “must-do deal” – refused to board a plane to Doha and negotiate. There is a sense that he may have been reluctant to repeat the trip, as previous efforts to sell Glencore to Qatari investors had fallen short after he was rebuffed by the sovereign wealth fund at the commodity trader’s 2011 flotation.
Those close to the Qataris also suggest the pitch alerted the emirate to another investment, as Glencore had a 34% stake in Xstrata. Quite why the fund preferred Xstrata to Glencore is not clear. However, according to those who have worked with it, dealing with Qatar Holding can be a lengthy process and the fund can eschew investments that might cause it embarrassment, especially in the west.
Glencore, on the other hand, is a controversial company even within a controversial sector. When Glasenberg admitted publicly in April that the City viewed his company’s assets as lower quality, it was essentially an acknowledgement that Glencore owned projects in territories other FTSE 100 companies might have shied away from. In May, Glencore was asked by non-governmental organisation Global Witness to explain alleged “potentially corrupt deals” in the Democratic Republic of Congo with partner Dan Gertler. In June, a Glencore subsidiary hit trouble when it was fined €500,000 by a Belgian court for bribing EU officials to obtain market-sensitive information.
Whatever Blair said to Glasenberg on Thursday night, it was enough to overcome the arch-trader’s refusal to budge on price. Even as the meeting to vote on the deal got under way at Glencore’s Swiss HQ in Zug on Friday, he shifted part of the way towards the Qataris’ demands. Now he’s offering 3.05 shares – but on condition he gets to be the boss.
Back in June, Glasenberg asked: “If I wasn’t a shareholder and just the CEO of Glencore, why the hell would I do the deal when I get to lose my CEO job?” Mick Davis and his camp may now be asking the same question.
NY couple, 85, to remarry after 48-year divorce
WEST SENECA, NY — They got hitched while still in their teens, divorced 20 years later and are getting remarried after nearly a half-century apart. For Lena Henderson and Roland Davis, the second time around is finally here, even if they're both 85.
Several well-known names, such as Steve Backley, Roger Black and Kriss Akabusi, are bringing energy and a slightly confused wisdom to the business of motivational speaking
At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, British swimmer Adrian Moorhouse sat waiting for the start of the 100m breaststroke final frozen with terror.
“I was ranked third in the world and finished fourth, the worst position,” he recalls. “I blew it. I was stressed.”
Four years later, waiting for the 100m final in Seoul, and the fear had been quelled by learning techniques that helped the swimmer break down a race into aspects that could be controlled, such as him getting a decent start. It worked, and the Yorkshireman won gold by edging out Hungary’s Károly Güttler by just one hundredth of a second.
Those kind of lessons form at least part of what Moorhouse now does for a living, having retired and set up Lane4, a corporate training company.
“So in business, what’s the version of getting a good dive?” Moorhouse asks. “You can’t control that we are in recession, but you can control your product and your price point. It is easy to be fixated with the current and lose sight of the wider picture.” And the wider picture shows that after starting his business in the mid-1990s, Moorhouse is suddenly racing lots of new competitors flogging similar lines.
On the back of London 2012, there seems to be an ever-growing number of former Olympians who have decided to cash in on the Games by selling their experiences to businesses. They include javelin thrower Steve Backley and 400m runner Roger Black, both silver medallists, who have launched their own training company BackleyBlack; another 400m silver medallist, Kriss Akabusi, whose motivational speeches are more a demonstration of the force of his personality; Ben Hunt-Davis, the gold medal rower, who has created a training business called Point8 Coaching; and gold medal sailor Sarah Ayton, now a “motivational speaker” at “change consultancy” AytonLee.
The recent arrivals are all very polished performers with soundbites such as Backley’s “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me”. That one may grate slightly, but Backley is not alone and there are elements of parody in the language used by many athletes-turned-business gurus.
“Today is going to be a good day, because I am going to make it a good day,” Hunt-Davis tells his audience. Meanwhile, Black confusingly opines that “authentic presentation is the key. I think it’s the same as an athlete. The great athletes were authentic”; and, just as bafflingly, Akabusi reckons “similarities make us champions, while differences make us unique”.
If that all sounds more David Brent than David Moorcroft, then perhaps that is nothing new. Motivational speakers have long had to contend with sneers that they are essentially corporate quacks – with the renowned management writer Peter Drucker once proclaiming: “We are using the word ‘guru’ only because ‘charlatan’ is too long to fit into a headline.”
That is surely overdoing it, as most of the former athletes are really selling the stories behind their success (Backley calls it “enter-train-ment”) alongside input from professional business coaches.
Still, if sporting lessons really do translate into the office then two obvious points occur. Firstly, if businesspeople can learn from elite sportspeople, then surely sportspeople can learn from elite businesspeople – yet for some reason athletes seem reluctant to invite portly tycoons into their training camps.
Secondly, the most obvious place to analyse just how motivational these techniques are is by looking at the financial accounts of the companies run by these Olympians.
There, the results are somewhat mixed for Team GB, with Moorhouse’s Lane4 miles ahead of the rest of the field (albeit after many years’ head start).
The firm’s last set of published accounts show its 85 staff generated revenues of £7.5m and net profits of £789,586. For those Olympians who have only recently spotted the market, BackleyBlack made a profit of £31,785, Hunt-Davis’s Point8 Coaching booked a £17,848 loss and AytonLee has not even filed its first accounts yet.
Moorhouse, who says he is currently uncomfortable with using his Olympic links to sell services, says: “It’s right to be sceptical. We test this stuff on ourselves. Sixty per cent of it works and a lot doesn’t. Inspirational speaking is OK for a sales conference, but [what we sell] should be about creating more resilient people and organisations. In the first quarter of 2009 our biggest sector was the financial sector – and it was all about creating mental toughness and resilience.”
It is an apt word to use. Resilience may also be a quality that many of these former Olympians will need to rediscover if they are to maintain an audience once Olympic fever fades.
ATLANTA (TheStreet) — UPS on Tuesday offered an unusually glum outlook for the world economy, as CEO Scott Davis proclaimed “our customers are increasingly nervous” and said second-half domestic gross domestic product growth would be around 1%.
UPS’ results are considered to be a key indicator of the global economy because, at any given moment, the company has 6% of the U.S. GDP and 2% of the world’s GDP in its system. It reported Tuesday that it missed analysts’ earnings and revenue estimates and it cut full-year guidance.
“Economies around the world are weakening and our customers are increasingly nervous,” said Davis, on the second-quarter earnings conference call Tuesday morning. “Current second-half economic forecasts for the U.S. are too high — GDP growth will likely be closer to 1%.” …
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Yes, the merger with Glencore would collapse, at least for now. But a longer-term victory would be won – and the board might well come back with less onerous payment demands
Make-your-mind-up time approaches for Xstrata’s shareholders. Here’s what they should do. Vote against the £240m of retention payments for the company’s top executives. Swallow any short-term hit to the share price as the Glencore deal collapses. Sit back and count the long-term benefits of principled opposition to boardroom greed. Then ask if Xstrata’s board, in its embarrassment, might ditch the hand-outs to try to resurrect the transaction later.
That would be a superficially attractive but ultimately irresponsible course, says the chorus of the timid. We must hold our noses, say these supposed pragmatists, because we want the merger with Glencore to proceed now and because Xstrata has made the deal dependent on approval of the payments to Mick Davis and his chums.
Rubbish. The irresponsible course would be to establish the precedent that a chief executive, post-merger and after the crystallisation of his various share options and incentive awards, needs even more cash to persuade him to turn up for work. In Davis’s case, the sum is £30m over three years. If it is approved, managements everywhere will cite the example in their own mega-mergers and acquisitions. The long-term losers will be owners everywhere, obliged to pay twice to retain the services of executives.
Xstrata pleads that its case is special – the company’s assets would contribute 80% of group earnings after the deal and “retaining a stable management team with a track record of value delivery is in the interests of Xstrata shareholders”.
We’ll ignore the small matter of whether this track record of “value delivery” is as good as it’s cracked up to be (short answer: not if you bought Xstrata shares at most points in the past five years). The relevant question is whether Davis and 72 colleagues in line for retention payments really are irreplaceable or vulnerable to poaching or retirement.
If the Xstrata chairman, Sir John Bond, believes that to be so, there’s a simple remedy. He should make the executives roll their current incentives into equivalent arrangements denominated in Glencore stock. After all, that’s exactly what the board is asking its shareholders to do via the proposed all-share deal.
Davis himself calls it a “merger of equals”. Fine, but don’t then expect to be treated as the lucky recipient of a premium-priced takeover. What’s meant to be good for shareholders ought to be good for executives. The rest is just a cash-grab.
It seems unlikely that Wednesday’s intervention by the Association of British Insurers, which issued a “red top” alert on Xstrata’s retention plan to denote a breach of good governance, will change matters one jot. All self-respecting members of the ABI can see that the retention payments stink – and, in any case, a couple of big shareholders don’t like the merger terms and have already declared themselves to be refuseniks.
But it’s interesting to speculate on what would happen if Xstrata were to get its 75% majority for the terms of the deal, but fall short of the required 50% for the retention awards. We know the current deal would die, but it would be an uplifting message to send to the board: you could have had your merger if you weren’t so greedy. One suspects Davis would be back with less stratospheric demands soon enough. And it’s not as if Ivan Glasenberg’s obsession with owning Xstrata is about to weaken.
Dan L. Donald, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Directors of Jeff Davis Bancshares, Inc., announced that at its regularly scheduled meeting on June 19, 2012 the Board voted to pay a cash dividend in the amount of $.50 per share on July 6, 2012 to shareholders of record on July 2, 2012.
The amount and payment of future dividends for the Jeff Davis Bancshares, Inc. common stock is determined on a quarterly basis, based on earnings, financial condition, capital requirements and other factors.