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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Tax campaigners study multinationals’ enthusiasm for going Dutch

Category : Business

Brewer SABMiller is just one of the consumer goods giants accused of using tax treaties in the Netherlands to shift profits around the world and avoid millions in tax

In the centre of Rotterdam lies the Cool district, well known for its bars, cafes and cinemas. Less well known, though, is a small office used by 10

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Aid for Diageo? UK’s private-sector emphasis comes under scrutiny | Felicity Lawrence

Category : Business

Critics say UK aid invested in public-private partnerships could tighten massive agriculture firms’ control over the food chain

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in his autumn statement last week that the UK overseas aid budget would take a hit as the economy contracts. The prime minister, David Cameron, has pledged he will keep the promise made to raise UK aid to 0.7% of gross national income by 2013, to meet UN targets.

With growth forecasts cut, the amount of money going to overseas development will be less than planned but will still represent a substantial increase on previous years. How that extra money should be best spent to alleviate poverty is likely to be the subject of increasing debate, as NGOs work to keep the British public on side.

War on Want, one of the more radical agencies, is highly critical of funding by the Department for International Development for public-private partnerships that may increase the control of agribusiness over the food chain. It points to two projects that have received significant support from DfID. In Tanzania, a public-private partnership called the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) aims to bring 350,000 hectares (865,000 acres) of land under agricultural production and generate $2.1bn (£1.3bn) of private-sector investment. Partners include Unilever, drinks companies Diageo and SABMiller, agrochemical companies Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont, and fertiliser corporation Yara. DfID and other international donors are paying to upgrade the road infrastructure.

The project documents make clear Sagcot will lobby for tax breaks for investors and expects small-scale farmers to benefit by enabling them to be outgrowers for large agribusinesses. This model, War on Want argues, favours large industrial development, and leaves smallholder farmers and small businesses at the mercy of big corporates. It also, in effect, subsidises highly profitable multinational companies that have become very good at stripping profits out of businesses onshore.

DfID counters that Africa cannot develop out of poverty without large-scale investment, and that much will have to come from the private sector and projects such as these. Investment in schemes that give smallholders access to markets and training in how to use modern farming techniques enables them to increase productivity and sell their surplus, generating income.

In Mozambique, DfID has granted £6.5m to a catalytic fund that aims to bring private investors in to convert unused land for agricultural production. The documents for the project talk of “large tracts of unutilised land” for foreign investors that can be leased for 99 years at a rate of $1 a hectare. Smallholders are meant to benefit as outgrowers for the corporations. One of the investments made by the catalytic fund this year has been in a marketing company part owned by smallholder farmers so that it could supply maize for beer production to SABMiller factories in Mozambique.Other corporate investors in the corridor include Nestlé, Rio Tinto mining, Sun biofuels and private equity fund Phatisa.

In Cameroon, DfID has supported Diageo in a project to replace imported barley with locally grown sorghum in its beer brewing operations. It gave match funding of $250,000 through the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, a private-sector fund supported by DfID and other foreign government aid programmes.

In Sudan, SABMiller won nearly $1m funding from the fund to introduce local sourcing for cassava through a local subsidiary for its brewing operations.

The rationale, according to DfID, is that it enabled Diageo to assist smallholder farmers to increase their yields and sell their crops to Guinness as a commercial buyer. The grant enabled Diageo to collaborate with a not-for-profit agricultural specialist organisation to train small-scale farmers. The SABMiller collaborations similarly offer smallholders a chance to produce and sell more, boosting their incomes, DfID says.

SABMiller says taste for beer survives slump

Category : Business

London-listed brewer SABmiller says pre-tax profits were up 12% for the six months to September

In hard times, consumers like to drown their sorrows with higher quality beer, according to the world’s second-biggest brewer, SABmiller. The London-listed brewer has benefited from this trend to report pre-tax profits up 12 % for the six months to September. In the UK, volumes were 5% higher, driven mainly by its premium-market beer Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Overall, the UK beer market declined during the half.

“Despite tough economic times, people still want to treat themselves, and it’s far easier to buy a nice drink than, say, a new car,” said a spokesperson for the group.

The shares in SABMiller jumped more than 6%, valuing the group at about £44bn.

But despite the summer’s European football championships in Poland and Ukraine, pre-tax profits in Europe were down. In Poland SABMiller cut prices.

In December last year the firm bought the Australian group Foster’s for £7.5bn. This acquisition and higher profits in India and China – where SAB owns a 50% stake in China’s most popular beer, Snow – boosted pre-tax profits by 265% in the Asia-Pacific region.

Overall, the maker of Grolsch, Miller and Pilsner Urquell reported that profit rose to £1bn, compared with £880m a year earlier, also helped by SABMiller’s dominance in its biggest market, Latin America, where it controls almost the whole market in Colombia and Peru. Company sales worldwide were up 11% to $17.5bn (£11bn).

SABMiller’s outlook remains cautious. The company, whose roots are in South Africa, said the gains from acquisitions and mergers seen in the first half could be reduced next year. But the company said the potential of the principal emerging markets in which it operates remained strong. The beer industry has recently undergone a major consolidation. Besides SABMiller’s acquisition of Foster’s, Heineken won full control of the maker of Tiger beer in a £4bn deal in September.

New markets help SABMiller grow

Category : Business, World News

Brewing giant SABMiller says that profits improved, driven by growth in emerging markets, sending shares higher.

Link: New markets help SABMiller grow

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Parliament urged to force companies into tax admissions

Category : Business

IDC seeks transparency from oil, gas and mining firms over amount of tax paid in developing countries

A parliamentary inquiry is likely to press the government into signing an international agreement to force oil, gas and mining companies to report how much tax they pay to developing countries.

The recommendation is expected to follow the conclusion of a series of select committee hearings in front of the International Development Committee, including Tuesday’s session where two of the largest multinationals listed on the London Stock Exchange insisted it would be difficult and costly for them to make wider disclosures on taxation.

Senior executives from commodity trading group Glencore and brewer SAB Miller appeared to resist calls by campaign groups and development agencies for more transparency. The committee’s chairman, Malcolm Bruce, said that one proposal being considered was for the UK to commit to signing up to Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a programme designed to increase transparency over payments by companies to governments and to government-linked entities. Bruce said: “The US is considering signing up [to EITI]. Colombia is committed. The UK doesn’t appear to be. That may well be … a clear omission.”

During questioning Tim Scott, global head of tax at Glencore, said: “For country by country reporting of financial information, there are pros and cons. The pros are the transparency. The cons are the cost of producing this information in a reliable and audited format. The second potential disadvantage is with this information it is not clear to me that anybody would be any the wiser on the level of taxation paid or whether the right tax had been paid at all. That is simply because one has to look at financial reports in the context of the tax law and tax returns before one gets a very clear idea. So I’m not too sure that this is amazingly useful.”

Glencore has previously stated its commitment to the EITI and providing a breakdown of its tax payments by region.

Graham Mackay, chief executive of SAB Miller, said to the committee: “This transparency drive to achieve a right outcome, we believe is doomed.”

The EITI was announced by then prime minister Tony Blair at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. Despite it being originated in the UK, the British government has never signed up to the scheme. So far, most of the countries that have implemented EITI are developing countries, although last September President Obama committed the US. He said: “We’re continuing our leadership of the global effort against corruption, by building on legislation that now requires oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose the payments that foreign governments demand of them. Today, I can announce that the United States will join the global initiative in which these industries, governments and civil society, all work together for greater transparency so that taxpayers receive every dollar they’re due from the extraction of natural resources.”

The select committee is expected to publish its report in the next six weeks.

SABMiller controversially elevates chairman to chief executive

Category : Business

Boardroom reshuffle at world’s second largest brewer breaches traditional corporate governance practices

Brewer SAB Miller has breached City convention by elevating its long-standing chief executive Graham Mackay to chairman.

Mackay will serve as executive chairman for a year, after which his replacement as chief executive – another long-serving South African executive Alan Clark – will take day-to-day control of the world’s second largest brewer.

Mackay is stepping up to chairman as Meyer Kahn, the 72-year-old South African who steered the business from a sprawling conglomerate under the isolated apartheid regime to a FTSE 100 company, is retiring after 46 years.

The boardroom reshuffle, announced on Monday, breaches traditional corporate governance practices, which do not permit a chief executive to become chairman unless there is a good explanation from the company. Neither are the corporate governance codes keen on the chairman being a full-time executive, as Mackay will be for a year.

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of corporate governance experts Manifest, said: “As an interim measure some shareholders might think it is OK but given the lack of the independence on the board they are going to have to face some tricky questions”. Mackay, one of the FTSE 100′s longest serving bosses, will move up to the chairman’s role at the annual meeting in July.

A spokesman for the brewer, which makes Peroni, Grolsch, Miller Lite and Castle Lager, confirmed that no external candidate has been considered for the roles of chairman or chief executive.

Senior independent director John Manser has written to shareholders ahead of the AGM insisting that the succession arrangements – some of them in breach of the UK corporate governance code – were appropriate for SABMiller. Of MacKay’s transition to chairman Manser said he was “the outstanding candidate for the position”.

Any investor protest at the succession plans is likely to be minimal as the appointments have already been approved by US firm Altria, formerly part of Philip Morris, and the Colombian brewing family Santo Domingo. These two investors account for five board directors and just over 40% of shares.

Meyer joined SABMiller in 1966, becoming managing director in 1983 and executive chairman in 1990. He and Mackay floated the business on the London Stock Exchange in 1999. A decade later about 8.5% of the group’s South African division was transferred to a broad base of stakeholders, including staff and liquor store operators, under a government-sponsored black empowerment initiative.

Under the apartheid regime, SABMiller, then South African Breweries, was a messy conglomerate and the country’s largest employer. Divisions under the SAB umbrella included a supermarket chain, a clothing store, hotel and gambling companies as well as manufacturing interests in shoes, razors, matches, furniture, textiles and plate glass.

Since its listing in London, Meyer and Mackay have taken the business through a series of major takeovers in the rapidly consolidating global beer market. Landmark deals included the purchase of America’s number two brewer Miller and Australian brewer Foster’s, the firm behind Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught – but, confusingly, not Foster’s lager in the UK.