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A tour of beauty

Venice


Rising from humble beginnings, Venice is one of a select few Italian cities that has achieved iconic status throughout the world. From the annual Carnival of Venice, supposedly started in 1162 to celebrate the victory of ‘Serenissima Repubblica’ over the Patriarch of Aquileia, to the more modern pleasures of the luxury shopping centre, Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, opened in late 2016; even the most discerning traveller can find their niche in this fabled city.

More than 100 scattered islands make up Venice, connected by bridges and vaporetto (water buses or water taxis), with gondolas offering a unique, but expensive, journey. Marco Polo airport sits a few miles away from the historic centre of Venice, a 20-minute bus ride to Piazzale Roma, Venice’s main arrival point. Always check with your hotel to see if they provide a complimentary private boat transfer from Piazzale Roma, as this really is how to arrival in style and see the Grand Canal in all its glory.

Our first hotel, the four-star Hotel Palazzo Stern unities the grandeur of old Venice with a perfect location directly on the Grand Canal, helpfully positioned next to the Ca’Rezzonico water bus stop. The ground floor of the palatial residence in the traditional Dorsoduro district commands unparalleled views over the Grand Canal and during warmer months guests can take breakfast outside in the private courtyard to take in the full panorama.

The boutique hotel may have little in the way of facilities, with only a small breakfast room and no full restaurant, gym or spa, but the well-appointed rooms featuring updated bathrooms, Murano glass chandeliers and antique pieces, make Palazzo Stern a ideal base for exploring this quiet district.

One of Venice’s newest luxury hotels can be reached after a water bus trip to the San Stae stop and a short walk down a traditionally narrow Venetian street. The imposing five-star Palazzo Venart Hotel opened its doors in the summer of 2016, ensuring the 18 rooms and suites all had a unique and elegant aesthetic. The opulent Palazzo is best experienced in summer months when guests can relax in the canal-side garden and private courtyard, although on-site restaurant GLAM, created by Italy’s youngest two Michelin-starred chef, is open year-round and provides an authentic dining experience.

The Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, Lake Lugano

Our penultimate hotel, PalazzinaG in Venice’s San Marco district, offers a fresh take on a Venetian property. The Philippe Starck designed residence, complete with bespoke Murano glassworks from French artist Aristide Najean and vintage inspired objets d’art, instantly create an atmosphere of a private club. The 26 modern rooms and suites feature massive backlit mirrors, open plan layouts and quirky furniture, tastefully mixing functionality and high-design.

From one of the most minimalist, avant-garde hotels in Venice, we move to the thoroughly decadent and sumptuous Ca Maria Adele. Our themed room, Sala del Doge, was fully kitted out in red velvet on the walls and drapes, with golden cherubs flanking the television and several windows overlooking the beautiful Santa Maria della Salute church. Ca Maria Adele is well-suited to a romantic getaway, with the intimate and private hotel sure to impress.

Cosmopolitan cool

Home to two of the world’s biggest football clubs, AC and Inter Milan, as well as Milan Fashion Week and many other major design fairs and historical landmarks, any discussion of northern Italy is incomplete without mentioning this forward-thinking city.

Few cities the size of Milan manage to offer visitors such a deft mix of iconic monuments and contemporary hotspots, with Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper counterbalanced by the all-new Armani Privé club at the Armani Hotel. High-end luxury bars, restaurants and nightclubs are easy to find across Milan, but be aware that not everything that glitters is gold in this metropolis.

Overhyped launches that offer more style than substance can be avoided by making a stop at grand institutions like the Hotel Principe di Savoia’s storied Principe Bar. The Thierry Despont designed space oozes Hollwood glamour, with the handmade velvet drapes and back lit bar adding that extra special touch. The Milanese Caipirinha, with added saffron, certainly packs a punch, but patrons with a sweeter tooth can opt for the aptly named Candy Crush, made from vodka, orange jam, Grand Marnier, lime, sugar and finished off with jelly beans.

For a more contemporary side of Milan, try Il Bar at the Bulgari Hotel, located in Brera, Milan’s arts district. Flawless service and an amazing aperivivo can be found in a bar that lists many of Milanese high society as regulars, who are drawn to exquisite black marble and a large private garden.

Lake Lugano from the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola

Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano is one of the most stunning subalpine lakes to be found anywhere in the world and its tranquil shores were to be my final stop. Trains run regularly from Milan’s central rail station to Lugano and take just over an hour, passing through Lake Como on the way. The lake straddles Switzerland and Italy, although 80% of the locals speak Italian.

The Italian enclave of Campione d’Italia, which is completely surrounded by the Swiss canton of Ticino, sits directly next to Lake Lugano, leading to a unique mixture of Swiss and Italian culture flowing throughout the region.

Five-star Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, with its beautiful mountain and panoramic lake views, provides the ideal backdrop to this elegant area. Once owned by a Russian noble family, Villa Castagnola has been tastefully updated in recent years, while still maintaining its old-world charm. All of the hotel’s rooms are individually styled, meaning no two are exactly the same, although each room has beautiful park or lake views.

Food lovers can indulge in one of three unique restaurants, each tempting guests with an adventure in fine dining. Restaurant Gallery Arté al Lago, which specialises in seafood and lake fish, has the distinction of being the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Lugano. Diners at this lakeside art gallery-cum-restaurant can indulge in world-class cuisine like sautéed red tuna and Sardinian fregola with chards, artichokes and marinated winter chicory, while beholding the views of the lake and sculptures by international-artists.

The Hotel Principe di Savola, Milan

A few minutes walk away from the hotel, guests can take the cable car up Monte Brè to the Ticinese village of Bré. Positioned at 925 metres above sea-level Bré is considered the sunniest place in Switzerland, but it was the traditional architecture showcased in this small village that I came to enjoy. Walking up the mountain is no easy feat, but hikers can have a rest at either of the two restaurants on the summit, Osteria Funicolare or Ristorante Vetta, both serving traditional Ticinese cuisine.

Art enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice at the Wilhelm Schmid Museum, which showcases the works of 20th century Swiss artist Wilhelm Schmid, one of the leading names in the New Objectivity and Magic Realism movements. Just be sure to contact the museum early, as it’s only open by appointment.

Venturing out across northern Italy and into Switzerland allows the chance to explore a historic region with countless impressive landscapes, whether they be seen from the lakeside of Lake Lugano, the garden outside Milan’s Il Bar or the balcony of Hotel Palazzo Stern in Venice. Old and new, modern and traditional designs, all come together to make northern Italy and the Swiss border an unmissable destination all year round.

Further information

VENICE
Palazzinag: www.palazzinag.com
Palazzo Venart
www.palazzovenart.com
Ca’ Maria Adele
www.camariaadele.it
Hotel Palazzo Stern
www.palazzostern.it

MILAN
Hotel Principe di Savoia
www.dorchestercollection.com
Bulgari Hotel Il Bar
www.bulgarihotels.com

LAKE LUGANO
Villa Castagnola
www.villacastagnola.com

Nor-Shipping 2017


From 30 May to 2 June around 35,000 delegates from more than 80 countries are expected to be present in Oslo for one of the maritime sectors leading events, Nor-Shipping. The event acts as an innovation accelerator and merges key influences from the maritime sector with entrepreneurs and players from across the energy and tech sectors. Ultimately Nor-Shipping aims to drive development by challenging convention and nurturing a ‘disrupt from within’ mindset across the maritime industry.

The central theme of the event is ‘disruptive sustainability’, which seeks to penetrate the digital and sustainability-oriented shifts affecting the maritime industry.

Nor-Shipping Director Birgit Liodden elaborates: “Though the maritime industry may be perceived as conventional, the level of technological solutions and innovations is actually quite mind-blowing”, she says.

“NASA look to ocean space actors when developing outer space projects and both autonomous technologies as well as artificial intelligence are already implemented across a vast span of maritime related segments and operations.

“But as the maritime industry now face two parallel shifts on rapid digital transformation as well as the need for more sustainable solutions, we wanted to provide the industry with a physical platform to explore the future through collaborative projects and technologies, gaining new insights and inspiration to bring back home.”

Andrew McKeon, founder of consulting firm BusinessClimate had his own definition in 2013: “When a high performance zero-emissions automobile can be driven from New York to Boston, with a half-hour pit stop for refuelling – and the fuel is free – that’s disruptive sustainability.”

A significant number of maritime innovations originated in Norway, which is seen by many as akin to Silicon Valley when it comes to the advanced solutions and technologies for the sector. Nor-Shipping showcases collaborative initiatives, whereby leading companies join startups and where tech, maritime industries and the energy sector meet across traditional structures.

A host of cutting-edge exhibitors and partners are already confirmed, including Microsoft, DNV GL, Siemens, ABB, as well as entrepreneurs and a range of shipowners, NGOs, innovation and technology clusters, banks and investors. A range of groundbreaking zero-emission shipping technology and concepts will be among the highlights, as industry gears up for the implementation of COP21 initiatives.

Further information

www.nor-shipping.com

Flying the green flag


Arcadia Shipmanagement Co Ltd is an international shipping company specialising in the transportation of oil cargoes and is an established player in the shipping industry. Its vessels trade worldwide across a multitude of routes.

Arcadia Managing Director, Captain Dimitrios Mattheou is also Chairman of the Green Award Foundation. Green Award certification underlines an operator’s commitment to the protection of the environment and to the security and safety of all employees and third parties. Ships with a Green Award reap various financial and non-financial benefits.

Stefanos Papandreou caught up with Captain Mattheou to discuss the wider significance of the award and to learn more about the benefits ship owners will see as they become involved in the scheme.

Do you believe that the conditions in the shipping market today favour the adoption of voluntary environmental standards such as the Green Award scheme?
Dimitrios Mattheou: The maritime industry has always been subject to major market ups and downs. What we’ve faced during recent years is weak growth and great uncertainty. The industry-leading nations have limited fiscal and monetary options, while China is going through a period of difficult restructuring. It’s an unsettled business environment; an additional challenging factor is the geopolitical security picture and the rise of extremist terror organisations.

For everyone within the shipping industry, focussing naturally on financial-turnover, profits and growth, the key message depends on balancing economic expansion with environmental and social sustainability, operational efficiency and the benefits of becoming more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly operators. In relation to the energy footprints of shipping, comes the need to apply measures for reducing the vessels’ environmental impact, setting and achieving environmental-friendly targets, such as cutting down on the amount of waste water discharged into the sea, reducing energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions, isolation of harmful substances etc.

All the above will be improved, through the application of Green Award certification standards. Moreover, participating in the Green Award scheme, provides a ship manager with a consistent benchmark for the safety of people, caring for the planet through protection of the environment and last, but not least, profits from incentives provided through the Green Award scheme.

Describe the incentives of the Green Award. Do charterers accept the conditions of the Green Award certification procedures?

DM: Green Award certification standards surpass the industry standards in environmental friendliness, cleanliness and safety, therefore quite an effort is required by a ship operator, to meet the stringent Green Award requirements.

The earnings that result from having Green Award certified ships go well beyond reductions in port dues and other services’ charges, as those are offered by the Green Award incentive providers worldwide. Green Award is not only about financial benefits, but priority is placed to bring about improvements in the environmental protection and increase the safety of operations. Green Award auditors do not only point out ‘weaknesses’ on board, but also recommend solutions and inform the certificate holders about the best industry practices.

When Green Award certified the ship owners reap various benefits including:

  • Charter preference
  • Preparation for PSC / Vetting inspections’ requirements
  • An upgrade in the performance of ship and crew
  • Reduced possibility of incidents occurring.

Research and statistics based on detention data out of Port State Control (PSC) deficiencies, show that Green Award certified vessels have significantly less deficiencies than seagoing vessels overall. Moreover, data from Paris memorandum of understanding (MOU), Tokyo MOU, Indian Ocean MOU and USCG over the last decade show that the detention percentage of Green Award ships per year, is either zero or very close to zero.

Describe the Green Awards’ involvement in the fields of MRV process and air emissions regulations, especially with regards to the low sulphur cap to be enforced from 2020.
DM: The MRV process (Monitoring/Reporting/Evaluation) includes detailed rules for an emissions monitoring plan, verification of an Emissions Report, and accreditation of verifiers. The methodologies to calculate fuel consumption and carbon emissions are referred, as well as the cargo parameters and the cargo units to be reported for the various types of ships. The key document is the ‘Monitoring Plan’ template, which can be used by ship operators to describe their procedures and systems in place, to monitor fuel consumption and other relevant information.

The low sulphur cap is the requirement, which will be implemented in 2020, for marine fuel to have a sulphur content of 0.5% or less (outside of Emission Control Areas). This will deliver a dramatic reduction in sulphur emissions by shipping worldwide and will improve the local air quality in coastal areas. The Green Award promotes the use of International Maritime Organization (IMO) and industry guidelines to implement energy efficiency measures. In close relation to the above regulations and well before their implementation dates, Green Award air emission requirements include:

  • For NOx and SOx emissions, Green Award requirements are focused on encouraging ship owners to reduce these emissions below the current regulatory limits, as these are set in the Revised Marpol Annex VI.
  • For PM (particulate matter) and CO2, owners are encouraged to establish the current emission levels of their ships and then to implement measures which reduce these emissions below the ship’s current level. In order to reduce CO2 emissions, Green Award promotes assessing methods which can improve a ship’s ‘energy efficiency’ (or reduce the overall fuel consumption).
  • Finally, participation in the Environmental Ship Index (ESI) is compulsory for Green Award certified ships. The Environmental Ship Index is a combined effort on behalf of ports to promote the reduction of harmful air emissions (NOx, SOx and PM) and greenhouse gases (CO2). Green Award supports the new ESI concept and has become its incentive provider by integrating it into the requirements.

Please outline to the future objectives of the Green Award scheme.
DM: The main purpose of Green Award scheme remains to gather all certified companies and operated vessels, under an operationally-sustainable and environmental-friendly way of shipping business execution. Following the Green Award recent expansion to LPG Shipping sector, the next steps include Container shipping, RO-RO/Passenger ferries and mega-yachts, with the common link of all the above means of sea transportation, being their many and frequent port calls.

Besides attracting new shipping companies and industry-related organisations to join the Green Award family, the focus will be on expanding to ports and marina’s worldwide, aiming to achieve through incentive providing, reductions to charges for multiple port reception services, which are applicable to a variety of vessels. Those may include the following, all of which will derive benefits for being Green Award certified:

  • Bunker suppliers
  • Garbage collectors
  • Waste water/sluges/slops reception facilities
  • Collection/segregation/delivery of recycled material on-board

Further information
www.greenaward.org
www.arcadiasm.gr

This article is published with the kind permission of Stefanos Papandreou, Editor of ELNAVI Mοnthly Shipping Review: www.elnavi.gr

Creating wealth in Tanzania


Songea, the capital of the Ruvuma Region in southeastern Tanzania, is predominately an agricultural area. The district takes its name from a Ngoni warrior who was hanged in 1906 when the country was still under colonial rule, but today it’s home to a thriving trade initiative driven by the Covenant Bank for Women (Tanzania) Ltd.

The Ngonis of Songea in Tanzania traditionally grow maize, coffee, tobacco and cashew nuts, however in the 1990s, to improve their diet, they began keeping livestock. Two years ago, residents established a firm that’s now known as Ruvuma Fresh Milk Company. However, the company could not produce enough milk to meet the market demand, compelling the management to seek assistance from financial institutions.

“We went to several banks but it was to no avail, until such a point when we came up with the idea of approaching Covenant Bank for Women Tanzania, and frankly speaking, the bank came in very handy,” says the Ruvuma Fresh Milk Managing Director, Cornel Kapinga.

After a few days of discussions and fine-tuning the business plan, Covenant Bank for Women issued a loan that enabled the company to obtain a total of 200 dairy cows to its group dairy farmers and according to Kapinga, so far, the progress has been smooth.

Milk production has since increased tremendously. “With our partnership with Covenant Bank for Women, we are now confident that the business will soon flourish,” Kapinga says. Already, the company is selling milk within Songea and the surplus is sold to Dar es Salaam and in other regions.

The Songea-based company is just one of hundreds of micro-businesses, women and youth entrepreneurs, savings and credit cooperatives societies (SACCOS) who have benefitted tremendously from Covenant Bank for Women’s innovative loan schemes. Others include a number of schools and colleges, village cooperative banks, informal sector entrepreneurs, salaried employees, dairy cattle farmers and agri-business players.

The bank’s award-winning Hub and Spoke financing model has seen the Dar es Salaam-based Somangira livestock farmers, as well as thousands of other farmers in several regions, expand their businesses after getting a much-needed capital boost. These small and medium-sized enterprises are also able to get solar energy loans that enable them to succeed in the poultry and dairy farming business.

The Covenant Bank for Women also endeavours to contribute towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, especially those combating climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting renewable energy. The bank therefore gives loans for solar energy and supports biogas projects for women and youth farmers.

Encouraged by a 2006 study by a renowned Peruvian economist, Professor Harnando De Soto, which showed that Tanzania’s extra-legal (informal) economy accounts for assets worth $29bn. Covenant Bank for Women believe that the best way to significantly lift Tanzania’s economy is by nurturing the growth of small businesses, including those that operate informally. With a specific focus on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, women and those who are impoverished, Covenant Bank for Women Tanzania is paving the way for change.

Providing access to opportunity

Driven by its values of integrity, commitment, transparency, tenacity, competitiveness and willingness to innovate, the bank’s loan products are accessed by people who would not be able to get them under a traditional banking system. In partnership with other service providers, the Hub and Spoke Model helps the bank provide entrepreneurs with quick access to all they need. This is because the model provides the entrepreneurs and farmers access to all financial and non-financial services.

Sabetha Mwambenja

“With our Hub and Spoke financing Model, we are able to provide or facilitate accessibility of various other none financial services to women and other entrepreneurs,” says Covenant Bank for Women’s Tanzania Managing Director, Dr Sabetha James Mwambenja.

The bank also facilitates entrepreneurs’ operations with pension subscriptions, health insurance plus personal accident insurance to fishermen and motorcycle drivers. It also offers livestock insurance as well as boats and ship insurance. Covenant Bank for Women Tanzania also finances the production, processing and marketing of various value chain products.

This is why business management training as well as offering services that help farmers to get livestock feeds and other veterinary services, ranks high on the bank’s operations.

“This is why we fully engage in financial services deepening with a view to reforming the financial sector through innovations of services that are suitable for the informal/micro women and young entrepreneurs in order to empower them economically,” says Dr Mwambenja.

The Chairperson for the board of directors of the Covenant Bank for Women Tanzania, Ambassador Salome Sijaona says the financial institutions always strive to design a financing model for reforming and empowering the informal/micro women and young entrepreneurs at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

With its unique financing model, Dr Mwambenja believes Covenant Bank for Women Tanzania has now been able to create its own collateral and therefore does not make demands from its clients. It has also helped to increase the creation of jobs for youths through entrepreneurship while expanding the reach of financial services, such as pension and accident insurance to an increased number of Tanzanians.

“It is based on such innovative services that Covenant Bank for Women Tanzania started registering profits during the first quarter of its second year in operations. Basically, most new banks register losses until three years down the line, when they eventually break even and start operating profitability. Our story is different, we started registering profits after being in business for only one year,” says Dr Mwambenja who steers the bank under guidance of a five-member board led by Chairperson, Ambassador Salome Sijaona.

Further information
www.covenantbankforwomen.co.tz

Ship Recycling Congress marks meaningful progress


The 4th Ship Recycling Congress conference was held across the 25-26 January in London, when speakers and delegates identified methods to increase ship recycling profitability following developments in EU and Global Regulations.

The event provided practical solutions from shipping companies, aiming to educate the shipping sector on how to profit from the safe and efficient scrapping of vessels. The European Commission’s list of approved ship recycling facilities was discussed in detail, highlighting the effects that the list will have on the European ship recycling market.

Methods to increase ship recycling profitability were reviewed in light of low steel prices and current updates to green ship technology, which promote more efficient ship recycling procedures.

Additionally, speakers examined potential solutions to the dangers and health risks workers may be exposed to at scrapping yards outside of the EU, as well as providing an insight into new technological and practical systems for hazardous waste tracking.

They also covered the most important topics of the market and actively engaged with the senior level audience through panel discussions looking at:

  • Outlining the European Commission publication stating approved ship recycling facilities
  • Guidelines and benefits of using approved and compliant ship recycling facilities
  • Methods to increasing ship recycling profitability despite low steel prices
  • Analysing difficulties ship owners may have in weighing up the costs of scrapping ships whilst complying with regulations
  • A detailed look at the Hong Kong Convention and IMO Ship Recycling Regulations
  • Understanding the significance of a cash buyer in ship recycling
  • Analysing the practices of Southeast Asian Ship Recycling facilities and advancing the capabilities of under-performing recycling yards
  • Examining the benefits of selling vessels before they get to the end of their operational use

About the Ship Recycling Congress

The Ship Recycling Congress was brought together by ACI Europe. Through ACI’s market insight and thorough research of the ship recycling industry, the event brought together key companies and professionals and resulted in exceptional value for the participants.

The congress is an annual event with the next edition set to take place in January 2018 in Europe. To find out more please contact: mlampropoulou@acieu.net or visit: www.wplgroup.com/aci/event/ship-recycling-congress

Priya Blue: India’s leading green ship recycler


At Priya Blue Industries, we believe that ships should live forever. As India’s largest ship recycler with a ClassNK approved Hong Kong Convention (HKC) compliant green recycling yard, we understand the importance of ensuring this more than anyone. Our passion for ships mirrors our best-in-class recycling processes and work ethics. Priya Blue owns and operates one of the largest ship recycling yards in India. With one of the biggest VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) plots measuring 6,000 sqm in Sosiya, an extension of Alang, in the state of Gujarat, India. It has a 120 metre shoreline, a cutting area with impermeable flooring and drainage system.

Priya Blue has over 60,000 sqm of freehold land opposite the main plot, which is used as a ‘backyard’ to carry out the dismantling and segregation of products. It also houses permanent labour quarters for its workforce – one of its kind in the industry. The yard has plenty of extra space for other ancillary activates to further scale up the operations.

Priya Blue Industries is a pioneer of green ship recycling on the Indian subcontinent and one of the first recipients of the Statement of Compliance towards the Hong Kong Convention from ClassNK.

We have recycled around 66 ships including 8 ULCC’s (Ultra large), 7 VLCC’s, 1 FSO (floating storage and offloading) and 2 FPSOs (floating, production storage and offloading) with an aggregate capacity of 1.5 million tonnes valued at more than $420m.

A green recycling yard is incomplete without an effective drainage management system. Priya Blue is fully equipped with an effective and well-mapped drainage system. The excess oil and waste is carefully collected. Containing and effectively disposing hazardous waste without harming the environment is our top priority.

At Priya Blue, we ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees at all times, especially while dealing with hazardous substances. We manage harmful and hazardous waste with as much care as our workers. Our yard is equipped with well maintained safety equipment for the protection of our workers.

Our core team reviews and analyses every aspect of the ship recycling process to ensure all adequate precautions are taken to safeguard our workers and protect the environment.

Best Oasis

Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd operates a wholly owned subsidiary Best Oasis Ltd (Hong Kong) as the cash-buying arm of the group. Best Oasis is one of the top three cash buyers in the world for ship recycling. As the ‘cash buyer’ suggests, the company purchases vessels on an ‘as is where is’ basis and delivers the same to the ship recyclers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Turkey.

Best Oasis is the only preferred cash buyer with the highest tonnage in the German KG market. We have purchased and sold over 500 ships for recycling around the world managing an aggregate tonnage of 4,794,166 light displacement (LDT).

Best Oasis has an in-house team of experiences professionals, consisting of managers and operators making them highly skilled in adhering to green recycling protocols.

Best Oasis successfully negotiated and acquired the legendry vessel Jahre Viking for recycling (83,000 LDT) – a crude oil supertanker and the largest vessel ever built.

Best Oasis and Priya Blue Industries hold the Guinness World Record for recycling Jahre Viking – the largest vessel to be recycled till date. Other notable vessels Best Oasis has purchased for recycling include Exxon Valdez and Ex SS Norway – the world longest passenger vessel.

Both ships were recycled as per the required international green recycling standards at our Priya Blue green ship recycling yard in India.

Our fully compliant green ship recycling yard has inspired us to do more. As a result, Priya Blue recently acquired Bhuval Industries. It gives us a great pleasure to announce that we have successfully acquired another recycling yard. With a shore length of 60 metres, Priya Blue is upgrading the Bhuval Industries recycling yard facilities and infrastructure. Priya Blue is making significant investment to procure new cranes, winches, wire ropes etc. It will also build a new office premises and hazardous waste area complete with impermeable concrete flooring – which will be different in layout and much more than the prevailing HKC compliant yards.

Further information
www.priyablue.com
www.best-oasis.com
bhavik@priyablue.com

Ocean adventure inspires business success


The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is without equal, a fierce blend of intense competition and stirring human endeavour, but the results don’t stop with its crew: its unique global challenge provides an inspiring stage which translates into a powerful business opportunity for official partners and suppliers who share similar ambition to push boundaries and go beyond expectation.

Clipper Race CEO and Co-Founder William Ward says: “Governments, cities, financial technology leaders, small specialist businesses and larger consumer brands, all shared our vision throughout the Clipper 2015-16 Race, collaborating with us on a wide variety of creative campaigns. We’re extremely pleased to see them achieving such strong results through their partnerships with us.”
Tourism, trade and investment, brand awareness, sales growth, business development, R&D, community engagement and legacy are just some of the reasons partners choose to do business with the world’s greatest ocean adventure.

For Host Ports and Team Partners, attracting tourists and building economic impact is key. Long term partner Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland experienced a record breaking £3.5 million boost to its local economy during the past race edition.

A new independent research report reveals that 163,000 visitors, 25 per cent of whom were international, visited the city’s waterfront during the nine-day 2016 Foyle Maritime Festival which was built around the Clipper Race stopover last July. Two thirds of visitors stated that the Clipper Race was a primary reason for visiting the festival and the high attendance levels also resulted in July 2016 being the best performing month for hotel room sales ever recorded in Derry-Londonderry.

The city, which uses the race to promote the message that the city has moved on from its troubled past and is open for tourism, trade and education, exceeded all previous years’ results. Alderman Hilary McClintock, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “We have welcomed visitors from all over the world and it has been fantastic to see the city profiled in such a positive way on the race’s global platform.

“Our partnership with the Clipper Race has helped demonstrate our ability to stage an international event generating substantial revenue for the local economy and it has enhanced the region’s profile as an exciting and unique visitor destination.”
The British Government’s GREAT Britain campaign has partnered with the Clipper Race since 2012 to support its wider objectives of bringing jobs and growth to the UK through promoting international trade opportunities and attracting tourists, and export opportunities.

The shared ambition of promoting business as part of a global trade mission on the race resulted in 100 new business connections following twelve international influencing events in race stopover locations including Cape Town, Sydney, Da Nang – Vietnam, Qingdao – China and Seattle.

Conrad Bird, Director of the GREAT Britain campaign, said: “The Clipper Race has been a fantastic partner to date, providing the GREAT campaign with a huge amount of opportunities to promote our businesses and our brands. It is also a social platform with a strong human dimension.

“The Clipper Race story is unique, of real people facing individual challenges and undergoing transformational experiences, with those experiences translating into highly inspiring opportunities to tell our success stories around the world.”

William Ward, the Clipper Race CEO, was appointed a GREAT Ambassador and joined up with other UK business leaders to promote the UK Government’s ‘Exporting is GREAT’ advertising campaign. Filmed on board the GREAT Britain boat during the Rio de Janeiro stopover in 2015-16 race, the advert has featured extensively on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky TV.

In business, relationships are key and the Clipper Race offers a unique and dynamic engagement platform. Financial technology leader LMAX Exchange used its team partnership to nurture existing client relationships as well as to develop new business opportunities in key territories: London, Sydney, Qingdao, China and New York. With over 220 clients engaged and 50 new business connections made, LMAX Exchange rated its return on opportunity as 7:1.

The long-term duration of the race and its global participation, scope and audience levels offer high awareness and sales potential to consumer brands. Activations to date have realised significant double-digit growth and in 2015-16 the Official Clipper Race Timekeeper Elliot Brown Watches launched a multi-platform digital awareness campaign looking to emulate this success.

Throughout its 18-month campaign Elliot Brown Watches grew 40 per cent and sold all its limited-edition Clipper Race Canford watches. The brand also collaborated on a successful digital marketing campaign using unique content sent back during the race by a brand ambassador crew member and the creative use of fastening a watch to the mast of one of the round the world yachts to prove the products durability in the face of Mother Nature’s harshest conditions.

The Clipper Race’s heavy endurance nature has provided Technical Clothing Partner Henri Lloyd a perfect testing bed since 2002 for trialling new technologies and design firsts, and with approximately 700 crew now participating in each edition, a typical year-on-year increase of 40 per cent in sales has been directly attributed to its race partnership.

In a further strengthening of East Asian relationships, Qingdao, the Clipper Race’s longest term Host Port and Team Partner since 2005, which has built its credentials as China’s Sailing City, has committed to a further two race partnership to 2020. With the addition of Sanya as a second Chinese Host Port and Team Partner for the next two races, the Clipper Race is committed to developing multilateral tourism and business relationships between Asia and the rest of the world.

In addition to helping partners realise financial targets, the Clipper Race supports vital corporate and social responsibility initiatives, such as the first-time partnership with Official Clipper Race Charity Unicef which raised over £320,000 for children in danger in every country visited on the race route.

The race also works with the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation bursary scheme for young people from challenging backgrounds in South Africa. It was created in 2013 to provide unique development opportunities in a bid to inspire future community leaders through completing a leg of the race followed by mentoring. All participants from the 2015-16 edition of the race have now gone into education, training or employment.

To read a summary of all the highlights from the 2015-16 edition, visit the partnerships Case Study section of the website.

The Clipper 2017-18 Race will set off in August.

Ship recycling and the Hong Kong Convention

© IMO


At the end of a ship’s lifetime, the logical, green response is to recycle it. This makes environmental and economic sense, not just for ship owners but also for the communities where ship recycling has become so important.

Almost every part of a ship can be recycled – steel, machinery, equipment, fittings and furniture. Virtually nothing goes to waste and the materials and equipment are almost entirely reused and recycled. Moreover, ship recycling provides direct and secondary employment for thousands of workers, both in the industry itself and in the ancillary markets for materials and components, particularly in the five countries where most of the world’s ship recycling is carried out today – Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

The United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) has, since it was founded in 1948, focused on the global regulation of ships themselves, ensuring they are fit for purpose in terms of safety, security and environmental protection. 

In the 2000s, responding to the need to address risks associated with ship recycling, IMO ventured into new territory by embracing the regulation of ship recycling – not only for ships, but also for land-based recycling facilities – into a single, comprehensive instrument. The International Convention on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, the so-called Hong Kong Convention, was adopted in 2009.

The Convention embraces the ‘cradle to grave’ concept for the purpose of addressing all environmental and safety aspects relating to ship recycling. It takes into account all aspects, from the ship’s design stage onwards and right through to the end of the ship’s life. It also includes the responsible management and disposal of associated waste streams in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

Stefan Micallef

When the Hong Kong Convention enters into force, it will provide inclusive and effective standards that can be applied universally. It places responsibilities and obligations on all parties concerned – ship owners, ship building yards, ship recycling facilities, flag states, port states, recycling states, etc. The Convention, the first ever to address ship recycling issues, is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment.

This reflects the desire by IMO and the worldwide maritime community to have global, worldwide treaties in place that set a level playing field and look for the highest practicable levels of safety and environmental protection when it comes to shipping, and which are applied universally.

Ships to be sent for recycling will be required to carry an Inventory of Hazardous Materials on board, while ship recycling facilities authorised by competent authorities will be required to provide a ‘Ship Recycling Plan’, specific to each individual vessel to be recycled. Governments will be required to ensure that recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the Hong Kong Convention.

To date, the Convention has secured five ratification/accessions, regrettably not sufficient to bring it into force, although there are positive indications that ratification is currently under serious consideration by a number of governments. Meanwhile, IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee has already developed and adopted all six guidelines required by the Convention, which are critical to early, voluntary implementation of the Convention’s provisions, ahead of its entry into force. These guidelines cover the development of the Ship Recycling Plan and the Inventory of Hazardous Materials, safe and environmentally sound ship recycling, authorisation of ship recycling facilities, survey and certification and inspection of ships. Adherence to these guidelines now, in advance of the entry into force of the Convention, would therefore start a welcome process of incremental improvement, which would greatly facilitate a smooth transition to their future mandatory implementation. 

Raising awareness

In the meantime, through workshops, training and other similar projects, IMO is currently raising awareness of the Convention internationally and in particular is working with recycling countries, to help build the capacity and establish the conditions that will enable them to ratify/accede to the Hong Kong Convention. It is a complex issue, often involving many different ministries and industry groups in those countries. 

A good example of this work is the project ‘Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh – Phase I’ (SENSREC Project – Bangladesh), which was launched in January 2015 and is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the European Union and jointly implemented by IMO, the Government of Bangladesh and the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS). During the course of the project, a series of studies have been completed and training materials developed, aimed at boosting safety and environmental standards in the country’s ship recycling industry.

The Hong Kong Convention is currently the only workable international instrument regulating ship recycling. More importantly, it allows for future improvements, providing a platform and an avenue for even better regulation, in due course, of an activity that is the economic lifeblood of many communities, especially in south Asia.
 
About the author
Stefan Micallef is Director of the Marine Environment Division, International Maritime Organization – the United Nations’ specialised agency with responsibility for developing and adopting regulations and standards for ship safety and security and for the prevention of pollution from ships.

Further information
www.imo.org

The new Blue Frontier


In 2008, the man responsible for locating The RMS Titanic, Oceanographer, Robert Ballard asked this question: “Why are we not looking at moving out onto the sea? Why do we have programmes to build habitation on Mars, and we have programs to look at colonising the moon, but we do not have a programme looking at how we colonise our own planet? The technology is at hand!”

2017 is the year it begins. Imagine ten thousand homesteads on the sea –‘seasteads’ – where ocean pioneers will be free to experiment with new societies. Residents would live in modular units, which can detach at any time and sail to join another floating city, compelling ocean governments to compete for mobile citizens like companies compete for customers. A market of competing governments, would allow the best ideas for governance to emerge peacefully, while spurring technologies that will benefit the environment and humanity.

The non-profit Seasteading Institute was founded in 2008 by Google engineer Patri Friedman and venture capitalist Peter Thiel in order to promote the vision of startup governments at sea. This year, seasteaders celebrate a major breakthrough. We will launch a pilot project in Tahiti in collaboration with the government and people of French Polynesia.

On 13 January we signed a historic memorandum of understanding with President Édouard Fritch of French Polynesia for the Floating Island Project to collaborate on developing sustainable floating islands with unique governing frameworks. This is an unprecedented moment in human history and the beginning of a new seasteading industry.

“I am honoured that you have chosen us as your destination,” President Fritch wrote. “Tahiti and its islands do indeed offer many strengths to accommodate such a project, which could truly become a vector of economic development in our country.”

Prosperity

The evidence that startup societies succeed is compelling. More than 4,000 special economic zones (SEZs) around the globe have successfully encouraged economic growth in otherwise stagnant economies. We are working with the government of French Polynesia to create the unprecedented ‘Special Economic Seazone,’ designed to transform French Polynesia’s remoteness into an advantage. The Seazone will take the best practices of those 4,000 experiments and apply unique rules and regulatory opportunities specifically designed to attract investors.

After French Polynesia codifies the Special Economic Seazone into law, Blue Frontiers – a new spin-off we have created – will prototype floating islands stationed near an anchor community on land. The pilot project has been projected to cost between $30m and $50m.

French Polynesia is an excellent location for a Seazone. It has beautiful waters and islands. Its institutions are modern and stable. The people are friendly and trustworthy – there’s little crime and no threat of war.

Polynesians have already demonstrated that a system of connected island communities can successfully develop distinct cultures while working harmoniously together for the good of the region. But today, rising sea levels threaten the way of life in many Polynesian societies. As Polynesians search for ways to adapt, floating islands will offer an option for resiliency.

“We need to create new cleantech and blue economy jobs for our youth, and this project has the potential to be a real game-changer locally,” said local Tahitian businessman and former minister of tourism Marc Collins. “This project could help us retain our bright minds, who would otherwise emigrate for work.”

Sustainability

We seasteaders are committed to creating sustainable communities. We hope not only to simply protect the environment, but also to actively redress existing negative environmental impacts. Our Floating Islands will be developed using the latest in cleantech solutions to model low-carbon living and symbiotic relationships to the seas. The floating islands will be modular so neighbourhoods and villages can grow organically and rearranged as desired.

Our pilot islands will be appealing to pioneers from around the world. As we perfect the technologies and bring down the costs of development, we are launching a brand new industry.

This new industry will create homes for climate refugees in low lying regions around the world, and provide housing near crowded and expensive coastal metropolises. Our modules will be designed to withstand the elements for more than a century, making the floating islands a viable real estate investments spanning a wide variety of use cases, and addressing pressing issues that are only expected to get worse worldwide. Seasteading is an exciting solution.

Joe Quirk, best-selling author and ‘seavangelist’ for The Seasteading Institute sums it best: “It’s easier to float than fly. Sea stations are cheaper than space stations. If we want to feed 10 billion people by 2050 with a sustainable civilization, humanity needs to re-engage the source of all life, the ocean. Then the sky will be the limit. Ocean first, space second.”

Further information
www.seasteading.org
www.blue-frontiers.com

About the author
Randolph Hencken is the Executive Director of The Seasteading Institute
and CEO of Blue Frontiers.

Warba Bank: powered by innovation

Warba Bank’s achievements have been recognised by ‘Banker Middle East’ magazine


At the start of 2016, Warba Bank promised its clients it would achieve positive results by the end of the year. Not only did the bank deliver on its promise, but expectations were significantly exceeded and with no sign of slowing down. The bank forecasts further accomplishments in 2017 as a result of robust strategic plans and solid investments.

Despite being a relatively young bank in the market, Warba Bank achieved distinguished financial results in 2016 with an increase in net profit of 158% totaling KD2.575m ($8.4m) compared to KD1m in the same period last year. Profits in 2016 was a product of growth in total revenues, resulting from the solid performance of all business units and reached KD37.5m as of 31 December 2016, up by 43% compared to the same period in 2015. Meanwhile, net financing revenues increased by 36% to reach KD16.4m as of 31 December 2016 compared to KD12m in the same period in 2015.

Due to its expansion strategy in local and regional markets, as well as investments in high-quality, low-risk assets, the bank’s total assets increased to KD1.1bn. Meanwhile, the financing portfolio saw notable growth reaching KD8.8m, up by 52% compared to the same period in 2015. This was the effect of the financing portfolio’s quality, with the percentage of default financing at 0.69%, one of the lowest percentages in the local banking sector, whereas the percentage of allocations’ coverage for the default financing reached 220% as of 31 December 2016.

In the past year, the bank helped finance a KD25m project to build a complex for Kuwait National Petroleum Company as part of the Clean Fuel Project. Other significant financing and investment operations in 2016 include a $155m co-financing deal for the Ziraat Katilim bank of Turkey; taking part in preparing a Shariah-compliant $174m co-financing deal to build a residential tower in New York; four co-financing deals (KD1.2bn for Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation; $145m for Etihad Airways; $230m for Ajman Bank; $155m co-financing, multi-currency deal for Ziraat Katilim). The crowning achievements of the bank’s performance in 2016 were the issuance of two sukuks: Kuwait Finance House – Turkey ($500m), and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector ($300m).

The financial performance achieved in 2016 is a direct result of the successful medium-term strategy (2015-2017), which was based on a number of targets, factoring in accelerating economic and legislative changes in the global economy and in the GCC in particular, in light of the sharp decline in oil prices. The strategy has positioned Warba Bank as a competitive Islamic bank with a rock-solid foundation in the local market.

Based on the success of this strategy, Warba Bank has put in place, in cooperation with McKinsey & Company, a five year (2017-2021) strategic plan focusing on increasing profits and positioning the bank as an institute that secures leading services to the business sector, all while continuing its success in the retail sector. The strategy includes continuing focus on outstanding customer service and developing unique digital capabilities, while continuing to grow prudently in a capital efficient manner.

Despite being a relative newcomer to the market, the bank is shaping a new era in Islamic banking through the offering of interactive yet authentic banking and services that take into account the need for effective banking while providing customers with practical solutions to meet their short and long-term financial objectives. The bank seeks to enhance its online services to attract a wider segment of new customers, raise market share and maintain a competitive edge over other local banks.

New products

In 2016, the bank launched several new accounts including the ‘Al Sunbula’ account, ‘Super Saving’ account and the ‘Call Account’ for companies. The bank also ran several successful promotional campaigns and released ‘Al Wafi Financing’.

The goal to make banking more efficient has led to the introduction of the ‘express’ services. Today, the majority of Warba Bank’s transactions are done via the bank’s online banking securely and efficiently. With accessibility, speed and security as the key drivers, they recently launched Express Finance and Express Account.

Express Finance is the result of an agreement between Warba Bank and the Public Authority for Civil Information to facilitate an e-signature function for the bank’s customers. It allows clients to authorise the bank to view their information on the credit network (Ci-net) without having to report personally to the bank’s branch. The bank has become the first bank in Kuwait to establish a service using this technology. The e-signature, also a first in Kuwait’s banking sector and an example of the bank’s capacity to break new ground, is an individual’s electronic identity – a digital certificate that allows them to confirm their identity and safely conduct online transactions, accelerating banking transactions.

The Express Account service is the first of its kind in Kuwait and allows clients to open an account online within minutes without the need to visit a branch at the first stage. Once the application is ready, the customer visits the branch to collect the card and sign the papers.

As a testament to its tremendous performance since its inception, Warba Bank has earned numerous high-profile awards and rankings.

In 2016 alone, the bank was presented Best Investment Bank in Kuwait, Best Corporate Financing Institution, Fastest Growing Bank in the Arabian Gulf, Middle East and North Africa in 2016 and Fastest Growing Bank in Kuwait for 2016 awards from Banker Middle East magazine. It was also awarded Best Company in the Arab World for 2016 by Forbes Middle East.

These awards come in appreciation to the bank’s excellence in the Islamic banking sector despite its young age and achieving distinguished results reflected by the financial data, key performance indicators, quick achievement at all levels and quality performance in terms of financing and innovative services it provides in this field.

The bank’s 2016 outstanding achievements pave the way for more accomplishments in the future. Warba is steadily heading towards leadership in Islamic banking and we are committed to even greater success in 2017. Clients can continue to expect innovative and contemporary products and services as well and new and exciting campaigns in the coming year.

About Warba Bank

Warba Bank was established pursuant to Emiri decree and officially registered as an Islamic bank by the Kuwaiti central bank on 5 April 2010. It offers a bundle of comprehensive integrated services and banking solutions that comply with the Islamic sharia jurisdiction, and such services are offered through three groups or services, namely, the Banking Group, the Company Financing Group and the Investment and Treasury Group. The bank has ten branches in strategic locations with over 400 employees working under its umbrella.

Further information
www.warbabank.com

Investing in a new Argentina


There is no doubt that 2016 was a significant year, in terms of economics, for Argentina and the rest of the world. Foreign exchange restrictions, lags in exchange rate fluctuation, conflicts with ‘holdout’ creditors, subsidies, high energy prices, power cuts and an attempt to boost foreign reserves, were only some of the challenges facing the world’s southern-most country. Some uncertainty still lingers on. Yet, there is no doubt that Argentina is marching towards recovery. Not surprisingly, local and international investors currently see the Argentinean economy in a positive light.

True, the global economy faces strong headwinds and it could be argued Argentina’s economic optimism is not consistent with other parts of the world. Take US economic policy, for example. Even cautious investors were surprised by Donald Trump’s triumph in the US elections. The challenge is adjusting investment decisions to the new administration’s economic policy, which will inevitably have global repercussions. Investors now need to identify acceptable risk levels and recalibrate their portfolios to avoid any future shocks.

Global uncertainty forces us to be more cautious, as investors have adopted a more conservative outlook and opt for safer options. They will have to be cautious about the fundamentals of the economy, including exchange rates and the rise of US bond prices. Volatility will be the order of the day, at least until the new US president and his administration spell out their policies and their consequences on emerging markets are clear.

Argentina’s capital market offers profitable options for all types of investors. PUENTE, a financial services firm based in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, is one of the most prominent financial services companies in the Southern Cone, providing clients with investment advice tailored to their needs.

Dollar-denominated bonds provide an investment opportunity worth exploring, if the alternative is keeping dollars in safe deposit boxes or fixed-term deposits. Over recent months, many Argentinean provinces benefited from a relatively favourable economic environment and borrowed in the international capital markets. Their bonds present investors with unique opportunities. For example, take the bond issued by Buenos Aires with yields of 6%, maturing in 2021, or bonds issued by the province of Córdoba, which yields 6.5% and matures in 2021, Salta’s bonus yields 7.5% and matures in 2024 and the bond of the Province of Mendoza yields 8% and matures in 2024. All these bonds offer annual yields in US$.

As for corporate bonds, the YPF 2024 and IRSA 2023 bonds yield 8% and 8.5% per annum in US$ respectively. Bonds in pesos such as the LEBACS yield nearly 24% per annum. To hedge in pesos against volatility in local interest rates, there are bonds that adjust for BADLAR (the average interest rate paid by the banks on large size fixed-term deposits), yielding in some cases between 4% and 5% over the reference rate.

For more risk-taking investors, equities are another option. In 2017, several Argentinean companies will be preparing for a public offering and many other companies will benefit from the forecasted growth of the Argentinean economy, presenting investors with significant opportunities. Given the volatility of the market, investors should be aiming for an investment horizon of less than two years and ideally avoid compromising more than 15% of their portfolio.

Further information
www.puentenet.com

Get the inside track at Risk Americas 2017


The 6th Annual Risk Americas Convention – America’s premier gathering of risk management professionals – returns to New York Hilton Midtown from 23-24 May 2017. This year’s convention features four tracks: The Future of Risk Management, Stress Testing & Model Risk, Liquidity Risk & Funding, and Operational Risk & ERM.

Presenting Liquidity Risk & Funding is Christian Pichlmeier, Head of Liquidity Risk, at Union Bank. The European caught up with Christian to discuss the post-implementation of Enhanced Prudential Standards for foreign banking organisations operating with intermediate holding companies and the liquidity repercussions.

Why is it so important to review the post implementation impact of Enhanced Prudential Standards (EPS)?
Christian Pichlmeier: While the large domestic institutions in the US were expected to adhere to EPS much earlier, the real test for foreign banking organisations (FBOs) began in July 2016. Regulatory authorities have started to look into how FBOs interpreted the rules and whether they fulfill the spirits of the requirements. The larger FBOs are waiting for the results of the latest horizontal exam by the Federal Reserve Bank and I expect we will learn that the focus needs to be much more on liquidity than it was in the past. FBOs have improved their framework in respect to capital and CCAR but certainly do have some catch-up to do on liquidity.

Briefly outline the role of intermediate holding companies (IHCs) and highlight the structural changes that liquidity managers need to take in to consideration.
CP: The role of the IHC is critical, as it needs to be sufficiently funded to cover the liquidity risk across the US. While in the past, institutions had a large number of entities with its own idiosyncratic liquidity risk, it is now expected that funding and liquidity risk is managed cohesively from the holding company perspective. Moreover, the Federal Reserve Bank has a direct impact on the liquidity risk, as it is the primary regulator for the IHC.

How do you envisage the industry evolving, especially as this is such as busy period for liquidity managers?
CP: Again, answering the question from a FBO perspective, the large foreign entities have built up a much stronger liquidity function in 2016 through the implementation of EPS. The Fed has reviewed in particular how liquidity stress assumptions are derived. Moreover, liquidity reporting has kept liquidity managers very busy. The topics for the near future in my opinion will be a further development of liquidity stress scenarios to reflect scenarios assuming no governmental support in a liquidity crisis. I also see an extended focus on intraday liquidity and collateral management. Lastly, funds transfer pricing will become a much more centralised focus as one of the key incentives for liquidity risk management is to ensure that front office business managers understand the liquidity risk they are exposing the firm through appropriate cost allocation.

Further information
www.risk-americas.com

A calm approach to investment


DPM Finanzas is a Spanish company that specialises in financial advice and operates as an independent Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV) Registered Investment Advisor. Its main services include providing financial advice, financial planning, economic reports and corporate finance.

Spain offers a great deal to those looking to establish M&A operations and partnerships with Spanish companies which, having faced the financial crisis of recent years are well positioned to relaunch and develop. To facilitate this, DPM Finanzas has made corporate finance services the backbone of its operations.

DPM Finanzas’s corporate suite provides financial advisory services to a range of companies, including family offices, private equity, corporates and family businesses. DPM Finanzas prioritise its clients’ interests, eliminating barriers and creating long-lasting relationships based on trust, excellence, independence, transparency, innovation and teamwork.

Currently, DPM Finanzas’s corporate services cover:

  • M&A advisory: includes all aspects of buy-side and sell-side M&A, as well as mergers, spin-offs and leveraged buyouts (LBOs, MBOs, MBIs, etc.) or preparation of economic reports and fairness opinions.
  • Debt & capital advisory: study and analysis of optimal capital structure and debt capacity; identification of available funding options and financing alternatives; analysis of restructuring and reorganisation alternatives and help with the implementation of a chosen strategy through negotiation (waivers, covenants, renegotiations, documentation, etc.) with key debt and capital providers.
  • Business/management strategy: strategic alliances and joint ventures, strategic plans definition, governance, business plan development and turn-around process, senior management advisory and assistance to the management team on transformation process.

DPM Finanzas’s team of senior executives are involved entirely in all the projects and processes described, acting as a chief restructuring officer (CRO) and actively participating in the different functions as required.

The company’s track record and the extensive experience of its partners speaks for itself. The team have worked as CEOs and CFOs in different companies both multinational and national, making DPM Finanzas one of the most relevant and trusted Spanish companies in its area of ​​competence.

DPM’s team of partners is comprised of Carlos Farrás, ex-Head of Investments at Barclays Spain, who has more than 17 years of experience in the financial markets, Alfonso Valdivielso, ex-Head of Private Banking at Barclays Spain & Portugal with more than 22 years’ experience of financial markets, Jose Miguel Murgui and Jorge Farrás. Miguel Murgui and Farrás have each been CFOs and CEOs of multinational companies and have more than 40 years of experience each.

DPM Finanzas believe being properly advised is not a guarantee of success but it reduces the likelihood of failure.

Further information
www.dpmfinanzas.com

How ready are you for 1 April 2017?


To most people, 1 April is still associated with April Fool’s Day when weird and wonderful stories are published for people to wonder whether they are real or not. Unfortunately, one story that will fit into the ‘real’ category is that concerning the changes to interest deductibility and restrictions on loss relief that will take effect on 1 April 2017, courtesy of the UK government. Thus, there is only a limited time left to get prepared.

The story starts with the Base Erosion Profit Sharing Action Plan initiated by the OECD. In December 2016, the OECD released an updated version of the BEPS Action 4 Report ‘Limiting Base Erosion Involving Interest Deductions and Other Financial Payments’. One of the areas covered in Action 4 is the introduction of a group ratio rule. It seeks to limit an entity’s net interest deductions to a set percentage of its tax-EBITDA while, at the same time, enabling an entity to potentially claim higher net interest deductions based on a relevant financial ratio of its worldwide group. The original report on Action 4 was issued in 2015 and the updated version does not change any of the conclusions in that original report, but provides more technical detail in applying the group ratio rule, such that governments can take into account particular features of their own tax law and policy.

Also in December 2016 the UK government did of course issue their own draft legislation on how they propose to implement Action 4, by introducing rules to limit the tax deductions that large businesses can claim. This was followed by a further release in late January 2017. While the main principles of the rules may seem to some to be relatively straightforward, the legislation is complex and requires a number of adjustments. Also, a number of elections may be required to obtain the most beneficial outcome. Some of the elections are irrevocable once made or may only be made as part of a package of alternative calculations, some elements of which could be beneficial and others not. Groups will need to review the potential impacts and consider whether refinancing or restructuring is necessary.

The important area to note is that, as referred to above, even though the legislation is only in draft (and may be changed in debate on the 2017 Finance Bill) and issued recently, implementation day is still 1 April 2017 and that is not for accounting periods (APs) beginning on, or after, 1 April 2017. Therefore companies with APs straddling 1 April 2017 will have to split that AP into two for the purposes of interest deductions and apply the limitations in the draft legislation to that second period.

As also noted above, the 1 April 2017 date is also relevant for restriction of losses to be used against profits. Losses carried forward, whenever they arose, can only be set against 50% of future profits. There is to be an annual allowance of £5m of profits before the restriction applies, but that limit applies to the group as a whole.

Further information
www.tpctax.co.uk

Defenders of the digital realm


Leading cyber security firm Templar Executives operates at the highest levels across the public and private sectors, helping shape government and corporate policy, developing national strategies and embedding capability across the UK government and FTSE 100 companies. Templar Executives’ deep and broad expertise in cyber security consulting, information auditing and training is supplemented by unparalleled technical expertise that is scalable through a robust and discreet expert ecosystem.

The European caught up with CEO, Andrew Fitzmaurice and Communications Director Kristina Holland from Templar Executives to discuss the rise in cyber crime and what businesses can do to guard against it.

There’s been an increase in high-profile cyber breaches making the headlines recently. Should organisations be worried?
Andrew Fitzmaurice: Yes, although ‘prepared’ is perhaps a more positive stance. Cyber crime is a hugely lucrative business and its threat to organisations is increasing exponentially in every sector. Cyber attacks are now costing businesses globally up to £400bn a year, often perpetrated by organised online criminal syndicates with clear motives to target people, systems and organisations – it’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ a breach will occur. Naturally, organisations wish to benefit from the wealth of new technologies delivering improved business efficiencies leading to a greater dependence than ever on information systems for all business activities: communicating with customers, third party suppliers, partners and employees. All of this presents opportunities for the ‘digital mafioso’, criminals, ‘hacktivists’ and even nation states, who harness the speed and scale offered by interconnectedness as their method of attack. Then there is the biggest threat of all – ‘people’ and the malicious and non-malicious threat presented by an organisation’s workforce and supply chain.

Andrew Fitzmaurice

Once a breach has occurred, be it based in fraud, intellectual property (IP) theft, personal data theft, ransomware, or denial of service, the pursuant reputational damage, loss of business and loss of credibility will be palpable to the business. On top of this, governments and regulators are pushing out to industry increasingly complex legal and regulatory requirements. The pressure on boards is relentless with businesses coming under intense scrutiny. There is an expectation from customers and shareholders that information is protected and shared appropriately. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in 2018 and will see financial penalties of up to 20m euros or 4% of an organisation’s global turnover for breaches in data protection and the prospect of criminal prosecution for senior board executives. Being prepared is therefore key, as Benjamin Franklin famously said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

How do organisations combat this wave of threats?
Kristina Holland: At Templar Executives our globally acclaimed holistic approach encompasses people, process and culture – all supported by ICT. This drives a level of knowledge and understanding which has helped countless organisations mitigate against the risk of a cyber breach and associated penalties by ‘knowing themselves’ and ‘knowing the enemy’. As Sun Tzu, the Chinese military strategist once said: “If ignorant of both your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”

Kristina Holland

Cyber security is now a recognised ‘business risk’ and as such leadership on the issue must come from the board. Templar Executives has over ten years of experience in supporting boards, across the public and private sectors; helping promulgate the correct message throughout organisations.

Templar Executives helps organisations to confidently demonstrate to their customers, stakeholders, partners and regulators that they can operate successfully and are compliant within legal and regulatory requirements.

We assist organisations to understand their cyber security risks in the context of their overall organisation, to identify key business assets, to allocate responsibilities and accountabilities within a clear governance framework and to implement mechanisms to drive good security management policy, procedures and processes throughout the organisation.

We help enable businesses to increase productivity by exploiting the latest technologies, new channels to market and global supply chains, without compromising the security of their organisation. By recognising cyber crime is a business risk and working with us to incorporate the cyber agenda into the governance structure the most critical information assets are protected and real competitive advantage gained. This was exemplified by one of our clients, a multi-national FTSE 100 company, which gained £7.2bn in new business contracts directly as a result of raising their cyber maturity posture.

What do you see as the biggest trends in the cyber security arena?
AF: There are three main trends evolving in cyber security. Firstly, there is a growing awareness of the significance of the supply chain and third party suppliers as an attractive target, rich in business intelligence and IP. Organisations are as vulnerable as their weakest link. Weak links in the supply chain can provide an easy route for those who want to attack an organisation.

Secondly, due to the rapid deployment of new technology and an organisation’s growth through acquisition, their infrastructures are often peppered with unsupported legacy systems, for example Windows XP. These systems represent a time bomb because of the ease with which they can be infiltrated and compromised. Organised criminal gangs and foreign intelligence services don’t necessarily want to destroy organisations rather continually skim off money or information and remain undetected. Legacy systems with little or no monitoring provide an excellent gateway for such activity.

Thirdly, the ‘insider threat.’ Attackers have learnt how to use people inside the organisation – we call it the ‘mosaic effect’ – to build up a picture from seemingly innocuous social media posts, press reports, engaging employees and discussing their work in a social setting. This and other open sources of information can be used to build up a comprehensive picture of how particular organisations operate.

Can Templar operate as a ‘one stop shop’ for organisations to address such threats or are multiple service providers necessary?
KH: Through our portfolio of advisory, assurance and academy services, Templar can address the entire spectrum, from providing strategic advice and assurance, audits and health checks to threat briefings, business intelligence services, incident response exercises and our world class GCHQ certified Cyber Academy with traditional and e-learning training courses.

Typically in the first instance Templar Executives would conduct a cyber security health check to attain an accurate assessment of an organisation’s current cyber maturity posture and risk levels based on their company, its partners, suppliers and stakeholders as well as our knowledge of the cyber threat landscape. The health check follows governmental best practice and is based on the GCHQ framework and/or the US NIST framework where appropriate. The aim is to improve and measure improvements in information assurance risk management, providing a common set of criteria based on recognised standards and to assess the information assurance and cyber security maturity of organisations. As a management tool this framework approach helps assess and provide a benchmark of current practices within the complex cyber and ‘information risk’ environment. The methodological approach is agnostic of organisational size and disposition.

A comprehensive report would then provide in detail the organisation’s current level of maturity, measured against leading industry standards and with a suggested roadmap of corrective actions developed to help raise the level of cyber maturity to protect the business and enable continuing operations.

A critical component of our service is to help educate the organisation so that they have the tools and the know-how in-house to maintain this elevated level of information assurance and to be cyber secure.

The Templar Executives portfolio of services embraces the entire journey from initial maturity assessment and pursuant-suggested roadmap through to the implementation of corrective measures and the deployment of advisory and GCHQ accredited academy services.

Further information
enquiries@templarexecs.com
kristinah@templarexecs.com
www.templarexecs.com

FX trading: why knowledge is power


Attempting to predict the markets is possibly one of the most ‘hit and miss’ professions there is. Analysts, commentators, economists and futurists all have a 50/50 chance of being on the money when it comes to calling the ups and downs of ticks and pips. Perhaps the most spectacular surprise of 2016 was Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election and the fact that the markets rallied despite predictions. If pundits were willing to wager their homes on Trump losing, they would have bet their entire estates on the markets falling. Subsequently, much of the investment fraternity would have been left without homes.

Presidents and government officials come and go and, while their exits are mostly predictable, elections and oustings of key government officials are sure to play a huge role in the direction of markets and exchange rates.

Jameel Ahmad, VP of Corporate Development & Market Research of ForexTime, an award winning brokerage firm says: “A changing of the guard, or major shifts in government policy, shines the spotlight on stock and bond movements. Even a relatively small change in exchange rates can have a massive impact on a country. An exchange rate is one of the most important indicators when determining a country’s economic health. It provides a portal through which its economic stability can be viewed.”

The ins and outs of currency movements

“There are many factors that contribute to the stability of a currency. Understanding them can assist those who are vulnerable to fluctuations. Business owners and pensioners in particular, feel the impact of sustained currency movements, but it is governments that are the biggest losers when their currency takes a hit – it’s bad for the economy and bad for electoral support,” Ahmad continues.

Inflation also plays a significant role in exchange rates. A country with a consistently low inflation rate generally experiences a rise in currency value, while a country with higher inflation typically sees depreciation in its currency, which in turn can increase interest rates.

If a country has a rising currency, it makes its products more expensive for foreign buyers. This is bad news for exporters and can be especially worrying if the country’s GDP is heavily dependent on exports. On the flip side, if a country depends heavily on imports and its currency drops against major currencies, everything becomes more expensive and this in turn pushes up inflation.

Foreign exchange rates (forex), interest rates and inflation are inextricably linked. A country with a higher interest rate may experience currency appreciation, since higher interest rates provide better returns to lenders and attract more foreign capital. In a country with lots of foreign investment, the exchange rate may also be stronger. However, this is not always the case, higher interest rates often curb inflation and these two factors can signify underlying negative economic issues, such as poor growth or political instability.

Trade

Another influencer of currency values is a country’s balance of payments: think of this as its current account. The balance of payments reflects the earnings on foreign investment and outgoing payments. If it imports more goods and services than it exports, it has a trade deficit. If it exports more goods and services than it imports, it has a trade surplus.

Imports, foreign aid, domestic and investment spending abroad all deplete the trade account. Credit figures include exports, foreign spending in the domestic economy, and foreign investments in the domestic economy. To calculate a country’s trade balance, you subtract the credit items from the debit items.

A trade surplus or deficit does not dictate the health of a country, which must also take into account other indicators and business cycles. A deficit in the current account, caused by overspending on imports or a decline in the sale of exports, can cause depreciation of a currency. Feeding into this currency influencer is government debt. A government that is heavily reliant on foreign capital to fund operations leaves its country extremely vulnerable to currency fluctuations.

Politics and foreign investment

We know politics and economic stability play a significant role in currency values. A country that has stable leadership and support from its citizens and a sound economic policy captures the attention and confidence of foreign investors. Countries with unconvincing leadership and a troubled economic outlook do not attract investors and their currencies are generally weaker than their more stable counterparts.

According to Ahmad: “The wild card in the equation, is speculation. If a country’s currency value is expected to rise, investors will be buying the currency for profit; this pushes up demand and the price. All of these factors determine foreign exchange rate fluctuations.”

Speculation by traders used to be the domain of financial institutions, but it is now accessible to individuals. Institutional markets react strongly to the effects of announcements and do not always base their judgements on their available technical data. The result is that fluctuations can occur for no other reason than fear, nervousness, hope or optimism. So, while Presidential elections catch the attention of the markets, a whole host of other factors combine to determine the direction of currencies.

The jury is still out on whether speculation is a good or bad thing for currencies. Regardless of the pros and cons, the uptake and interest of investors in the practise of currency trading has helped regulation and control of the monetary policies practised by governments and it has also improved transparency.

Currencies are an exciting investment option for people with a penchant for current affairs. However, the key to successful trading – and indeed any kind of short term investing – is education. An informed investor who uses both fundamental and technical data to determine trades has a good chance of being on the right side of the momentum. “Education is the key differentiator between successful and unsuccessful traders. This is why FXTM has invested so much of their resources into developing tools and tutorials that assist traders to become professionals,” Ahmad believes.

Data and software can be used to predict how a currency is likely to react but, the truth is, unpredictable events will always derail or delight investors. It’s not just big corporations who can cash in on these market fluctuations. Traders big and small can try their hand under the guidance of experienced brokers like FXTM. Investors who don’t want to jump in the deep end can trade on demo accounts.

Currency trading can be an interesting addition to an investment portfolio as long as you take the time to educate yourself, stay informed on current affairs and keep a level head.

Further information
www.forextime.com/eu

The content in this article comprises personal opinions and ideas and should not be construed as containing personal or investment advice. Trading Forex and CFDs involves significant risk. Please read FXTM’s full Risk Disclosure.

The FXTM Brand is regulated by various jurisdictions.

Fides: the true one-channel solution


Fides Treasury Services is the global leader in multi-bank connectivity and transaction communications. Originally founded in 1910, Fides is an independently operated subsidiary of Credit Suisse. With the industry’s largest bank connectivity network, Fides helps over 3,000 active clients communicate with more than 10,000 banks globally. Committed to helping corporations optimally connect and interact with their banks for over a century, Fides’ connectivity solutions delivers critical multi-bank account statement, payment workflow, and reporting capabilities. This allows treasury and finance teams to easily, accurately and securely communicate with their banks through any possible channel such as SWIFT, EBICS or any alternative network.

The European caught up with Fides CEO, Andreas Lutz, to find out how it all comes together and to discover more about the benefits of working with Fides.

Established for over a century, Fides is well known for its commitment to innovation. What is the company’s focus today?
Andreas Lutz: At Fides, we are focused on the same thing that we have been focused on for over 100 years. We are focused on making things easier for corporate clients by helping them to connect with, and communicate information faster and further.

Since 1910, our founding goal has been to connect people to the information that allowed them to do business, most recently in the areas of multi-bank connectivity and transaction communications. Today we are directing our efforts on simplifying the user experience of banking communication and connectivity for corporations. We are also broadening the bi-directional intelligence that our clients and their counterparts can derive from our solutions. This makes it easy for clients to securely execute and manage transactions regardless of their banking portfolio or geographic location.

Your tailored service ensures that solutions are flexible for both SMEs and international corporations. Please outline how this works.
AL: Our unique Lifecycle Innovation approach to product strategy puts the client at the centre of development. We plan, develop and deliver solutions based on direct client feedback. The continuous loop of learning and listening keeps our solutions relevant and our clients happy.

To ensure that we deliver solutions that scale to all spectrums of the market, we offer multiple delivery models. For instance, larger enterprises may have more sophisticated technology infrastructures. In such cases, we are able to easily integrate with any enterprise resource planning (ERP) and any treasury management system (TMS) in order to achieve comprehensive bank connectivity for their clients.

For smaller organisations, with less sophisticated technology landscapes, we are their all-in-one partner. We help them connect to their banks and consolidate their overall bank account management through our web portal. Our web portal also allows clients to execute and manage their transactions easily, quickly and securely over the web.

Andreas Lutz, CEO

How do your proprietary solutions support those who don’t have access through their own systems?
AL: Any multinational enterprise can share stories of lengthy ERP or TMS implementations because of the volume and geographic breadth of some of their subsidiaries. For those companies, we can offer a hybrid web-solution approach. For the centralised treasury groups we can integrate with their enterprise solutions and then allow their remote subsidiaries to handle their statement aggregation, transaction reconciliation and payment processing all from our web portal.

With trends in the business environment evolving so rapidly, there is constant pressure and expectation that payments are moved quickly and securely. How has Fides responded to this?
AL: Today, banking and regulatory requirements are battling with the need for speed. Business transactions are expected to be conducted in real-time, while the ability to connect to the banks has become more difficult for corporations.

Fides has invested heavily in its infrastructure and is enhancing processes that allow us to move single and batch payments within seconds. However, there are several challenges that still need to be overcome. Firstly, there is a degree of resistance from traditional banks to make it happen. This is partly due to the corporate inertia often suffered by large, multinational institutions in the face of change. There is a huge amount of work to be done on their part in order to make faster payments happen, which is why some are stalling. There is also the fact that banks like to maximise their settlement float.

These two issues aside, there are other challenges of a more technical nature. The legacy infrastructure was not built to be scalable for such an innovation. Real-time settlement would imply that any payment processing system would have to be changed, so that any global payment innovation initiative would finally lead to greater speed and transparency. A solution we support at Fides as well. Our infrastructure is built to address any changes that arise so that we can proactively approach regulatory and market developments.

How do you take this into account when dealing with issues such as fraud, efficiency gain and cost?
AL: One of the biggest challenges faced by treasurers is their ability to manage fraud and implement protection protocols and their inability to achieve cash visibility and predictability. To alleviate these challenges, it is crucial to implement centralised decision making to improve cash visibility and efficiency.

By reducing the number of touchpoints between the corporation and the bank, Fides makes it easier and more secure for clients to execute transactions. Clients of Fides can see all their bank transaction data at the touch of a button so they can take the most effective action on their payment process. The user experience we provide for our clients – by being a single resource for all their transactions and payments – inherently supports greater security and fraud protection.

We are constantly implementing new features that further reduce fraud. Recently, we released an advanced sanction filtering feature. This allows treasurers to identify and comply with any global sanction filter policy, such as OFAC checks etc, in advance of their payments. Furthermore, Fides can provide additional sanction lists upon request to support additional prevention needs a client may have. This creates an added level of security and it also economises the treasurer’s time because we are helping them to avoid sanction blocking by the bank before the payment is ever executed.

What’s in store for Fides in 2017?
AL: As CEO, it is my vision to create the best possible user experience for our clients when it comes to connectivity and transaction communication and management. Our solutions are uniquely comprised of purposeful, hands-on services for our clients along with versatile technology solutions that allow companies to connect to their banks and counterparts easily and quickly. The experience we provide our clients with this unique blend of services and software provides the added benefit of extended reach. As the provider of the largest bank connectivity network, clients of Fides can easily do business in any geographic market around the globe regardless of the size and location of the banks they are working with.

Over recent months, we have undergone a transformation in terms of our product strategy and adopted the Lifecycle Innovation approach I mentioned earlier. We have spent the last year fine-tuning our client feedback process, turning it into an actionable research and development programme. As a result, we will be coming to market very soon with a highly intelligent web platform that eliminates the guesswork from transaction management by streamlining all bank communications and payment workflow processes. Corporate treasurers need simplification in their everyday work.

The operating world is becoming smaller and smaller and companies are expected to do business in real-time regardless of geography, time zone, or regulation. Our new solutions focus on providing a user experience that eliminates friction from the bank connectivity and payment process. Our latest innovations, focused on real-time data transparency, are designed to make it easy for corporate treasurers to comprehensively connect with and execute on transaction information. It’s a very exciting time for the market and for Fides Treasury Services.

Further information
www.fides.ch

FRTB: why banks must act now

Christopher Burke


The final rules for the Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB) regulations were published last year and although details of how the regulators in each jurisdiction will implement them remain ill-defined, we know the changes are coming and that now is the time to prepare. FRTB, part of the Basel III rules, will transform how banks manage their capital requirements and how they are structured and managed internally.

The rules at a local level are not yet granular enough for banks to confidently implement them. This makes preparation difficult and the deadline of January 2020 is not far off considering the massive scale of the changes. Financial institutions need to get lean, efficient and ultimately prepare well ahead of this change. With this in mind, we propose some critical steps to help during this period of uncertainty.

Step 1: understanding the scale of the changes

The implementation of FRTB will be substantial and incur significant costs. If you haven’t already done so, setting up a programme to ensure good governance and structure is critical. It’s important for the FRTB team to establish contact with stakeholder groups early on as they will be assessing the potential impacts based on findings from the team, as well as those assessed internally.

Step 2: get lean, quickly

The estimated costs of implementing FRTB will double or quadruple the business costs across a bank. It’s important to reduce costs while aligning procedures and systems to stay competitive and ensure you have the right mix of desks to operate your business. Streamlining business and IT processes, implementing automation in areas such as back testing, consolidating systems and reducing your costs per trade are all essential.

Step 3: organise your data

One of the main concerns the various regulatory programmes have raised for banks relates to the completeness and consistency of their data sourced from multiple systems. Additionally, business desks will potentially need to produce up to 60 times more data than current levels for certain desks. The subsequent increased workload for regulators will be enormous. In preparation, allocating more resources and processes to interpret the data is essential.

This has been a brief look at only some of the critical topics within FRTB. What is known is that it’s coming – what’s not known is how the banking world will look once local interpretations of the regulations are finalised.

Further information
www.brickendon.com

The National Bank of Equatorial Guinea expands operations to Madrid

Representitives from The National Bank of Equatorial Guinea

The National Bank of Equatorial Guinea (BANGE) recently celebrated the opening of its first European office in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The inauguration ceremony took place on 19 January and marked the beginning of a new era for the bank.

Representing BANGE was the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Martin Crisanto Ebe Mba and his management team, CEO Manuel Osa Nsue Nsua, Deputy General Director, Pedro Abeso Obiang Eyang, Director of Area Management, Emilio Moyo Avoro, Commercial Director, Jacinto Nsue Osa and the Territorial Director, José Valentin Abeso Eyama.

Among the guests were representatives of Spanish banks, the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), diplomatic members accredited in Spain, including Purificación Angue Ondo, Ambassador of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea in Spain and members of other African states.

Mr Ebe Mba, Chairman of the Board of Directors, presided over the event. In his speech he spoke of BANGE’s history since it was founded through to its present success and how the opening of this office will facilitate the collaboration and development of business opportunities currently offered by Equatorial Guinea to Spanish entrepreneurs and investors.

The Secretary of State for the Development of the National Economic Plan, Guinea Equatorial’s Horizonte 2020, Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo also spoke on behalf of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

After the speeches, The European recognised BANGE as Business Bank of the Year in Equatorial Guinea. The award was presented to Mr Ebe Mba and the award for Banking CEO of the Year for Equatorial Guinea, was presented to Mr Osa Nsue Nsua.

Manuel Osa Nsue Nsua,
CEO of BANGE, speaks at the inauguration of the Madrid office

The main objective of the new representative office in Spain is to promote investments not only of Spanish companies, but also to everyone in Equatorial Guinea, in addition to supporting and facilitating the citizens of Equatorial Guinea in their projects of all kind, in Europe and other markets.

Mr Osa Nsue Nsua has high hopes for the future of BANGE and said: “I see the National Bank of Equatorial Guinea with an important national and international expansion, as a strong sub-regional group with representation in at least three Central African countries, with the prospect of converting the representative office in Madrid into a financial Entity with the capacity to operate in the Spanish market and new branches in other areas such as the insurance industry.”

This representative office operates as a supervised entity and it is registered in the Registry of Entities of the Bank of Spain. The next step for the National Bank of Equatorial Guinea, to make its presence in Spain, is to obtain a commercial bank license to fully operate as a credit institution in the Spanish market.

BANGE, which is based in Malabo, was founded in 2006 and despite global economic turmoil and low oil prices in recent years, has since 2012, achieved results that have been improving year-on-year, with double-digit growth rates.

During its first 10 years of activity, BANGE has established 22 branches – more than any other bank in Equatorial Guinea – and has 380 employees. The opening of the Madrid office is part of a new growth phase that will continue in the coming months with new offices in Cameroon and Congo.

Its staff are BANGE’s greatest asset – 98% are Equatoguineans and their professional and personal development is a priority for the bank, devoting significant amounts of resources in training programmes in Equatorial Guinea and abroad, especially in Spain.

The strength and stability of BANGE is reflected in its own funds with sustained growth and a solid balance. BANGE complies with all the stability ratios required by international banking regulations confirmed in the latest report issued by the Central Africa Banking Commission (COBAC).

All forecasts predict strong growth and expansion of BANGE in the coming years, in line with the objectives set out in the strategic plan 2015-2017.

BANGE has an extensive network of correspondent entities throughout the world, allowing it to develop its international business model with efficiency. In line with international standards, BANGE has a strong compliance department. Staff training is ongoing and all staff receives the necessary knowledge on prevention of money laundering and financing of international terrorism. In addition, BANGE is registered in the Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA) and strictly complies with all national and international regulations.

BANGE is perfectly positioned to continue the growth phase, as well as the opportunity to contribute to making Equatorial Guinea an emerging country.

Expansion

 

BANGE are making banking more accessible to the people of Equatorial Guinea by facilitating access to the bank and all its services. Its offices are interconnected where anyone can operate their account independently, in any branch of the bank or through the internet, as well as check their balances through a SMS messaging service. This will enable a more simplified process between customer and their banking accounts; something that is already happening worldwide but a major breakthrough for a small country in Africa.

Rural Credit facilities

As an example of the innovative services, BANGE is very proud of its Rural Credit facility aimed at farmers, fisherman and others trading in the primary sector. Through this type of specialised lending the bank is able to continue supporting these projects. The product is well-valued and appreciated by the people of Equatorial Guinea as it contributes to the recovery of the country’s primary sector.

About BANGE

The National Bank of Equatorial Guinea (BANGE) was established as a result of a commercial alliance between the State of Equatorial Guinea and the Philippines Bank of Commerce and its charter was signed on 10 June 2006. Eventually this investment group was joined by a small group of Guinean investors. In recent years the bank’s trajectory can be defined as ascendant and successful.

The results are evident with a solid customer base. To date, BANGE has 25 branches in Equatorial Guinea. The new Spanish office is located in Madrid, C/Serrano 106.

Further information
www.bannge.com
oficina.madrid@bannge.com

NHI: the future of digital healthcare

A patient benefitting from NHI technology


Nordic Health Innovation (NHI) is at the forefront of developing a digital support system for the healthcare sector. NHI’s goal is to use artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to create self-learning systems that can achieve early diagnosis of diseases long before treatment is required.

The European spoke to CEO of NHI Jonas Berggren to find out more about the current research and the long-term differences he believes the work will make.

Your services are geared primarily towards the elderly. What are the specific challenges you face with this demographic?
Jonas Berggren: The elderly are precisely the target group for our digital solutions. Generally speaking, these are often patients with a multitude of illnesses, who need to be managed in a medically correct way without burdening the healthcare system. There is therefore a significant need for more user-friendly technology to assist in this care, as well as the necessary education to use it.

Working with manufacturers, our challenge is to develop new connected medical devices which can be easily used by the elderly. We still need the support of family members, homecare or other staff to help these patients and we have already developed a structure for educating homecare staff.

How are you able to ensure that your product can be reached widely and easily?
JB: Our services are designed to suit the latest cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) technology, which means that you have access to them everywhere in the world, as long as you have access to the internet. This is irrespective of whether the country’s digital infrastructure is built with the help of mobile networks, which is the situation in many places in Africa and Asia, or with the fixed networks in Europe and North America.

The cloud-based services and our own flexible exchange rely on Microsoft servers, which are located within the EU. Security and data privacy are key contractual and architectural elements and the setup will need to fulfill the Swedish and EU requirements in the area.

In Sweden we are working to integrate NHI and the Rural Medicine Center with the Swedish hospital healthcare production system and the newly formed Swedish e-health account Hälsa för mig. We are looking to build similar systems from the bottom up in other countries. Through an e-health account, the intention is to gather all information on an individual’s health in a single location, which is private and accessible to that individual only. This can then facilitate a public health service making it possible for people to review their own health information both historically and at the present time – they can then share this information with medical services and research bodies.

In what ways do your products reflect those already found in the healthcare system?
JB: We have developed our services from NHI’s and the Rural Medicine Center’s long and shared experience of the elderly population. We have not been impressed with many of the existing products on the market. Therefore, we have developed these solutions in close cooperation with GMC Rural Medicine Center in Storuman, Västerbotten County Council and the municipality of Storuman in Sweden. It is a unique solution, which consists of a technical application including process, care and training support. In our experience, the implementation of new technology in hospitals does not always run smoothly.

Together we have also invested major resources in the further development of virtual healthrooms. These initiatives include fibre technology for various purposes, remotely controlled cardiac ultrasound through robotics, planning and dimensioning tools for support care and medical services. There is also an app for diabetics which enhances security for adults and children alike.

We are working on refining and streamlining the Digital Doctor Service, where doctors and other health professionals are able to connect to healthrooms via video links – the rooms will be equipped with a range of devices. We are also planning to work with guaranteeing and streamlining the information management to and from care providers’ primary medical data and hospital healthcare production systems.

Your research centre is in Norrland, Sweden, what are the benefits of being based there?
JB: This area has the highest proportion of elderly people and the highest healthcare dependency ratio. If this area continues to develop as is currently the case, researchers expect there to be more retired people in Sweden’s rural municipalities than people of working age by the early 2030s. This is a development that will significantly increase and alter the need for healthcare and medical services, but also affect the chances of recruiting well-trained care professionals too.

The inland municipalities of northern Sweden are benefit our research on account of the population’s imbalanced age structure, whereby 25-30% of residents are over the age of 65. In some municipalities, more than 10% of the population is over the age of 80. In this respect, we are approximately 25 years ahead of the rest of the world. We therefore have a unique opportunity to test medical technology products, working methods and processes on an existing population with an age structure that reflects where many countries will be in 25 years’ time. This demographic advantage, combined with one of the most developed, high-quality broadband networks in the world and cohesive, high-quality patient case note systems provides outstanding opportunities to test new solutions in the care and medical sector.

We are aiming to turn our demographic lead to our advantage. With the help of our unique sample area and research centre, we have the opportunity to develop our own products and services, as well as helping other companies.

How does working with universities and the development of artificial intelligence (AI) help NHI deliver its services?
JB: Together with our close partners Calejo Data Analysis and their global research contacts within the field of AI, we are at the forefront of the development of a digital support system for the healthcare world. AI will be important as we harness the power of IoT and see an increase in big data. Our goal is to create self-learning systems and be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to healthcare. Using new technology, we hope to be able to detect diseases long before treatment is required.

In addition, we strive through our close contacts with the scientific community to research everything we do, so we know that everything we are developing is based on sound knowledge.

Is there anything new in the pipeline for 2017?
JB: We are currently preparing projects in several countries in Africa and Asia, including Kenya, Indonesia, India and Zanzibar. We are also undertaking a full-scale project in extreme rural areas of northern Sweden. With our cloud technology our services works regardless of where in the world the patients are and what support systems the care professionals use.

Public stakeholders in northern Sweden have also joined forces with us to support a collective ambition to become world leaders in harnessing digital technology for health and social care in rural areas. This plan includes an extensive initiative relating to virtual healthrooms in cooperation with municipal healthcare services. To begin with, we are aiming for a dozen virtual healthrooms across eight different municipalities. In time, there will be many more.

The virtual healthroom

A virtual healthroom is a unique unstaffed self-service facility that aims to stay open 24 hours a day for recipients of care in rural areas. It is also possible to install virtual healthrooms in people’s own homes or on their mobiles. If necessary, doctors and other health professionals can connect to these rooms via video links, and the rooms are equipped with a range of devices. People can go into the room to check their blood pressure, take blood and check blood sugar levels, among other procedures. The devices are interlinked with district medical officers’ case note systems and medical services case note systems via a central server.

Jonas Berggren, CEO of NHI

Further information
www.nhiab.com