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Reuters

As Asia’s tropical storm season arrives, grounded airplanes at risk of damage

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SYDNEY/TAIPEI (Reuters) – Airlines, airports and insurers across Asia are bracing for the prospect of unusually high damage as the region’s tropical storm season begins, as hundreds of aircraft grounded by the coronavirus pandemic can’t be moved easily.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks inside the flooded Cochin international airport after the opening of Idamalayar, Cheruthoni and Mullaperiyar dam shutters following heavy rain, on the outskirts of Kochi, India, August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo

Major airports in storm-vulnerable regions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and India have been effectively turned into giant parking lots as COVID-19 travel restrictions choke demand.

“If you have got those aircraft on the ground, you can imagine to get them back up and running in a short space of time is no easy thing,” said Gary Moran, head of Asia aviation at insurance broker Aon. “The challenge is you can have a typhoon or hurricane coming and there are going to be a lot of aircraft that aren’t going to be able to be moved in time.”

Airline insurers, already on the hook to refund large portions of crash risk premiums because of the groundings, now face the larger-than-usual risk posed by having lots of airplanes grouped together at airports, industry experts said.

“One event could create damage which costs millions to repair, maybe even closer to hundreds of millions depending on the aircraft that are involved,” said James Jordan, a senior associate at law firm HFW’s Asia aerospace and insurance practices.

In guidance to be issued to airport operators this week, seen by Reuters, the trade group Airports Council International (ACI) warns that flying the planes out of danger, the practice in normal times, may not be possible. It says extra precautions such as more tie-downs could be needed.

“Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are a seasonal hazard in many areas of the world, and in the COVID context provide an additional layer of hazard with many airports accommodating larger numbers of parked aircraft,” ACI Director General Angela Gittens said in a statement to Reuters.

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport has so many aircraft on the ground that is using a runway for parking, according to a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Taiwan’s aviation regulator said it had asked airports to hold typhoon preparation meetings 36 hours in advance this year, rather than the usual 24 hours, to give airlines enough time to make parking requests. It will open up taxiways if needed at Taipei’s main international airport, Taoyuan, to allow for 160 parked planes.

EVA Airways Corp said its plans included securing aircraft, parking them in hangars and sending some to other airports in Taiwan and abroad. Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines Ltd, said it had typhoon plans but declined to provide details.

Hong Kong International Airport, home to Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and Hong Kong Airlines, said it had 150 planes parked and precautionary measures had already been carried out for most as part of typhoon season preparations.

The measures include fuelling up the planes to make them heavier, tying weights to nose gear, adding weight in the cargo hold, putting double chocks on aircraft wheels and flying planes to other airports, the airport operator said.

Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, whose runway flooded when Typhoon Jebi breached a seawall in 2018, said it had raised the wall’s height and waterproofed facilities.

Airports will also need to ensure they do not have any loose equipment that poses a risk to airplanes or they could face claims from airline insurers, Aon’s Moran said.

“The airport is supposed to maintain a safe environment for the aircraft,” he said. “That is their duty of care.”

Reporting by Jamie Freed and Ben Blanchard; additional reporting by Yimou Lee in Taipei, Tim Kelly in Tokyo and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/topNews/~3/fLYzKK2m2c4/as-asias-tropical-storm-season-arrives-grounded-airplanes-at-risk-of-damage-idUSKBN23A0F3

Blockchain

India to have a ‘window’ for Bitcoin, says minister amid crypto ban FUD

The Ministry of Finance of India continues to form a careful position on private cryptocurrencies.

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The minister of finance of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has given a ray of hope for the Indian cryptocurrency community as more fear, uncertainty and doubt circulate regarding a supposedly impending ban on digital assets. 

In a Saturday interview with India Today, Sitharaman emphasized that the ministry does not plan to shut off Indian innovations associated with Bitcoin (BTC) and its underlying blockchain technology.

“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options off. We will allow certain windows for people use, so that experiments on the blockchain, Bitcoins or cryptocurrency […] and fintech, which depend on such experiments, will have that window available for them. We are not going to shut it off,” she said.

Sitharaman said that the ministry is finalizing a cabinet note on crypto as India continues formulating its official stance on the asset class. “It is nearing completion, and then it will be taken to the cabinet. The Supreme Court had commented on cryptocurrency. We are very clear that the Reserve Bank of India will take a call on an official cryptocurrency,” she said.

After India’s supreme court lifted a crypto banking ban one year ago, reports of a new ban started circulating in early 2021. In February, another anonymous Indian official claimed that the government was about to introduce a complete ban on crypto, giving investors up to six months to liquidate their holdings.

On Sunday, Reuters published a report citing an anonymous senior government official who claimed that India is preparing to enforce a blanket ban on crypto and impose major penalties on rule-breakers. As part of an alleged bill, India is planning to criminalize “possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring crypto-assets,” the source claimed.

Despite reports of a ban from anonymous sources continuing to surface, Sitharaman said in early March that the ministry wants to form a “calibrated” stance on digital assets. 

Nischal Shetty, founder of local crypto exchange WazirX, seemed optimistic about Sitharaman’s comments in a tweet, stating that it is time for the Indian crypto community to build. 

The RBI and the Ministry of Finance did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

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Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/india-to-have-a-window-for-bitcoin-says-minister-amid-crypto-ban-fud

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Reuters

Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The blank check firm co-founded by one of the most prominent U.S. financial technology investment bankers will broaden its search for merger partners to companies worth up to $10 billion after pricing a larger initial public offering (IPO).

Steve McLaughlin started FT Partners in 2001 and since then, the fintech-focused investment bank has worked on mergers and acquisitions and public and private fundraising for the likes of BlackRock Inc, StoneCo Ltd and GreenSky Inc.

An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, McLaughlin and FT Partners have also been involved in advising a half-dozen firms in mergers with so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), most recently mobile bank MoneyLion’s $2.9 billion combination with Fusion Acquisition Corp.

Alongside Gene Yoon, founder of technology-focused investment firm Bregal Sagemount, McLaughlin is now sponsoring his own SPAC. Independence Holdings Corp. priced a $435 million IPO on Monday, having increased the number of units sold due to investor demand.

SPACs are shell companies that raise funds from investors to take a private company public.

Pulling in extra cash and fully exercising the greenshoe, a share allotment potentially sold in the days after an IPO prices, McLaughlin told Reuters on Tuesday, will allow Independence to target larger fintech companies, beyond the $5 billion maximum size previously considered.

He added a deal involving a company that processes payments between businesses, or one providing financial management services, would be likely for Independence.

“We provide an incredibly attractive option for a company as we’ve successfully taken many companies through this complex process, so we can give comfort to founders and investors along the way,” McLaughlin said.

Despite heightened investor interest in cryptocurrencies, McLaughlin said Independence wouldn’t be investing in a firm in that industry because most businesses are still too early in their development.

He added it was highly unlikely that Independence would end up merging with a client of his investment bank.

Source: Reuters – Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO

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Reuters

Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC – source

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(Reuters) – Former Walt Disney Co executives Kevin Mayer and Thomas Staggs plan to raise $300 million in an initial public offering for a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The duo’s first SPAC, Forest Road Acquisition Corp, agreed a three-way merger last week with fitness companies Beachbody LLC and Myx Fitness LLC that was valued at around $2.9 billion.

Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who is also on the board of directors at pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc, and Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, are working for Forest Road II as a strategic advisor and a director, respectively, the source said.

Mayer and Staggs will serve as co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the new SPAC, the source said. They had worked with the first Forest Road SPAC as a strategic advisor and director, respectively.

The source requested anonymity ahead of a regulatory disclosure on the SPAC IPO.

Mayer was Disney’s top streaming executive before he left the media giant last year to become the chief executive of popular video app TikTok. He departed the company three months after joining. Staggs worked at Disney for 26 years and held various roles including chief operating officer.

SPACs are shell companies that raise funds to take a private company public. They have gained immense popularity since last year, as they allow companies to go public by eschewing traditional IPOs.

A string of high-profile SPACs have been raised in the last 12 months, including by financial investors William Ackman and Barry Sternlicht, former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Source: Reuters – Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC-source

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Reuters

Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues

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(Reuters) – Companies raised $546 billion from new bond and share issues in January, as a flood of central bank money-printing and recovering stock markets brought record numbers of new listings, SPAC deals and share sales, Refinitiv data showed on Wednesday.

The numbers included $106.15 billion in initial public offerings (IPOs), SPACs and secondary offerings, with the amount of money raised by SPACs alone soaring 20 times to $24.26 billion from a year earlier, the data showed.

Companies also raised nearly $439.9 billion in corporate debt in January, a 5% fall since the same period last year, but still the second largest January in 25 years.

A SPAC, a shell company that raises money in an IPO before later merging with a privately held company to take the latter public, has become many investors structure of choice over the past year.

January’s haul was already 30% of a total $79 billion raised by SPACs in the whole of 2020.

Traditional IPO volumes in the United States, however, remained higher than SPACs in January, hitting a 25-year high of $33.9 billion.

Some 47% new bond and share issues were U.S. offerings in January this year, with China second with $23.96 billion.

Nasdaq was the clear winner among exchanges, with 167 issues raising $41.12 billion, followed by the New York Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Exchange a close third, with both raking in a little more than $18 billion respectively.

That was in stark contrast to European financial hubs London and Frankfurt, which raised $4.29 billion and $1.72 billion respectively.

Chinese online video company Kuaishou Technology is the biggest IPO globally so far this year, raising $5.42 billion in Hong Kong, followed by Polish parcel locker business InPost SA which raised $3.40 billion in Amsterdam.

Source: Reuters – Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues

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