Sunday, 19 May 2019

A public opinion poll suggests that pro-Brexit Boris Johnson, the ex-mayor of London and Britain’s former foreign secretary, has the best shot at succeeding Theresa May as prime minister.

Johnson has the backing of 39 per cent of Conservative party members questioned by YouGov in a poll conducted this week for The Times newspaper.

The YouGov poll showed Johnson with a huge lead over his closest rival for the post, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who received only 13 per cent.

Under increasing pressure to give a firm date to step down as Conservative leader, May has agreed with senior lawmakers in the party to do so once parliament has voted on her Brexit deal one more time in early June.

Johnson has, however, said he plans to stand in any contest to succeed May as leader of the Conservative party, if successful, he would then become prime minister.

In Britain, the leader of the ruling party is also the head of government

Johnson resigned from May’s cabinet in July 2018 to oppose her Brexit deal.

He said this week he had “a boundless appetite to help the country to get on the right path.”

Published in World

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc on Friday signed a seven-year 200 billion naira medium term facility with a consortium of seven mostly local banks.

The company stated this in a statement by its Company Secretary, Uto Ukpanah, to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in line with its post listing requirements.

The company said the seven banks were Access Bank, GT Bank, Zenith International Bank, Fidelity Bank, First City Monument Bank, United Bank for Africa and First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

The telecommunications firm said the facility was coordinated by Citibank, while Quantum Zenith acted as facility agent.

It noted that the medium-term facility would enable the company to fund its evolving business opportunities while assisting with capital expenditure and working capital, to deliver enhanced customer service.

Commenting on the facility, Mr Ferdi Moolman, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, said the facility indicated MTN’S confidence in Nigeria and local financial institutions.

“This facility expands our existing successful domestic debt programme which we are using to fund increased network capacity and the expansion of both the voice and data services on our network to customers in new areas.

“We have enjoyed remarkable funding support for Nigeria’s financial institutions since our first facility in 2003 and this has been critical to the development of the largest telecommunications network in Africa,” Moolman said.

He said the syndicated loan showcased the strength of the Nigerian financial institutions and their confidence in MTN’s vision as well as both parties joint ability to stimulate significant economic growth.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the loan syndication came a day after the listing of MTN Nigeria Communications shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

NAN also reports that MTN Nigeria on May 16 listed a total of 20.35 billion shares at N90 per share. The stock at the first trading day rose by N9 to close at N99 per share.

The shares are currently trading at N108.90 per share.

Published in Bank & Finance

Austria’s Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has resigned a day after secret video footage mired him in a corruption scandal.

The video appeared to show Mr Strache discussing government contracts with an alleged Russian investor in return for campaign support.

He also appeared to hint at a potentially illegal donation system for the far-right Freedom Party he leads.

He blamed his actions on alcohol and acting like a “teenager.”

Mr Strache said that transport minister Norbert Hofer will replace him.

He said that his actions had been “stupid” and “irresponsible” and he was leaving to avoid further damage to the government.

Mr Strache claimed he was the “victim of a targeted political attack” that had used illegal means.

“There is still a lot to do because we want to continue implementing the government’s programme and we stand by it out of responsibility for Austria and its people,” the vice-chancellor said.

“As an individual I must not be the reason for stopping that and perhaps providing a pretext to break this government – for that was the aim of this illegal, smear campaign.”

He also blamed his actions on being drunk and trying to impress a woman who was present and claimed to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.

“I was, yes, under influence of increasing drunkenness and yes it was a drunken story. I was tempted in an intimate atmosphere and with a loosened tongue to hold forth on all and everything. And yes what I said was, viewed in a sober light, disastrous and embarrassing,” he said.

“It was typical alcohol-fuelled macho posturing where, yes, I probably wanted to impress the attractive hostess and I behaved boastfully like a teenager and acted in an exaggerated manner,” he added.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the centre-right People’s Party was also due to give a statement on Saturday.

The damaging video featuring Mr Strache was allegedly filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza in 2017, just months before elections brought him to power.

It was published on Friday in a joint report by Der Spiegel and the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. It is unclear who set up the meeting and who filmed it.

The footage shows Mr Strache and Johann Gudenus – also a Freedom Party politician – talking to the woman. She told the pair that she was looking to invest in Austria.

Both politicians can be seen smoking and drinking while relaxing on sofas.

The woman offers to buy a 50% stake in Austria’s Kronen-Zeitung newspaper and switch its editorial allegiance to the Freedom Party.

Mr Strache names several journalists who would have to be “pushed” from the newspaper.

He also appears to suggest that she could be awarded public contracts.

Published in World

Valencia secured Champions League football for the second year in a row by winning 2-0 at Real Valladolid on Saturday.

With the win they clinched fourth place in La Liga at the expense of Getafe who drew 2-2 at home to Villarreal.

Marcelino’s side had to win to guarantee finishing fourth and after surviving the home side hitting the post they took the lead in the 36th minute when Carlos Soler calmly tucked the ball into the net to finish off a clinical counter-attack.

Spain international Rodrigo, who had played a crucial in the opening goal by winning back possession, scored the second from close range in the 52nd after midfielder Dani Parejo robbed the ball from a Valladolid defender deep in the hosts’ half.

Valencia ended the campaign on 61 points to take fourth spot for a second consecutive season, while Getafe came fifth with 59 and qualified for the Europa League, as did Sevilla who finished sixth with 59 after beating Athletic Bilbao 2-0.

Espanyol also qualified for the Europa League after beating Real Sociedad 2-0, finishing seventh while Athletic came eighth.

Published in World
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