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Russia accuses UK of blocking its ‘right’ to see poisoned spy and his daughter

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Russia has accused Britain of flouting diplomatic convention by blocking access to poisoned spy Sergei Skripal and barring it from the investigation into a murdered Russian businessman.

Hitting out at the Government, Russia’s UK embassy tweeted a picture from zombie film 28 Days Later, complete with its biohazard logo.

Its message said: “28 days passed since the poisoning of Sergei & Yulia Skripal. UK hasn’t complied with its obligation under the consular convention to provide access to the Russian citizens and the course of investigation.”

Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still in hospital after being poisoned by deadly nerve agent novichok on 4 March.

Russia has said it “insists” on seeing Ms Skripal after her condition dramatically improved. She is now understood to conscious and talking.

The UK government – which claims the Russian state is behind the attempted murders – is looking into the legality of the request, and also considering “the rights and wishes” of the 33-year-old.

Her father remains seriously ill and unresponsive.

Another tweet by the embassy showed a picture of a golden key with the words: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

It added: “Reputation matters. After declining Russia access to Russian nationals in UK, why should @foreignoffice expect other countries to satisfy similar British requests?”

As tit-for-tat expulsions continue, the first Russian diplomats to be kicked out of the US arrived back in Moscow on Sunday.

America has expelled 60 Russians, joining many European countries who also asked diplomats to leave in solidarity with the UK.

The Ilyushin Il-96 aircraft, transporting expelled Russian diplomats and their family members from the U.S., is seen shortly after landing at Vnukovo airport outside Moscow, Russia April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
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Russian diplomats kicked out of the US arrived in Moscow on Sunday

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Kremlin had unleashed a “tidal wave of smears, lies and mockery” since the poisonings.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he called the attack “illegal and contemptuous” and said President Putin was using “hybrid capabilities to subvert, undermine, and influence countries around the world”.

Russia continues to strongly deny any involvement and has responded to the West by throwing out an equal number of diplomats.

It has also published 14 questions about the investigation into the poisonings.

They include asking “what specific antidotes” the Skripals had been given and if novichok had ever been “researched, developed or produced in the UK”.

International chemical weapons experts are studying samples from Salisbury to see if they agree with the UK view that Russia was to blame.

Nikolai Glushkov
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Nikolai Glushkov died from ‘compression to the neck’

Russia also tweeted on Sunday about murdered businessman Nikolai Glushkov, who was found dead in his London home last month.

The embassy’s tweet, which featured the 20mph speed limit sign, again protested over a lack of access to the case.

It said: “20 days passed since the murder of Nikolay Glushkov in London. UK hasn’t complied with its obligation under the consular convention to provide access to the course of investigation.”

A post-mortem examination said the 68-year-old had died from “compression to the neck”.

Counter-terror officers are leading the investigation but have said there is nothing to suggest a link with the Salisbury case.

Mr Glushkov, a retired financial director for Russian airline Aeroflot, was wanted over fraud allegations in his homeland.

He was also a close friend of Vladimir Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, who died in 2013.



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Beer boss with a thirst for mega-mergers and cost-cutting calls time on his career | Business News

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He has had more influence on the global brewing industry than anyone else during the last couple of decades – although it is doubtful most beer drinkers even know who Carlos Brito is.

Today the Brazilian announced he was stepping down as chief executive of AB-InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, which sells one pint in every four swigged worldwide.

The company is a colossus that last year produced 530 million hectolitres of beer – the equivalent of more than 93.2 billion pints.

Anheuser Busch's Budweiser and Bud Light Beer can be seen on display at a new Wal-Mart store in Chicago, January 24, 2012
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Budweiser and Bud Light are among the brewery giant’s brands

Its sprawling portfolio of brands includes six of the world’s most valuable beer brands – Budweiser, Stella Artois, Bud Light, Corona, Brahma and Modelo – and countless other household names including Becks, Jupiler, Leffe, Lowenbrau, Bass and Boddingtons.

It is a business Mr Brito, who will be 61 on Saturday, effectively created through a series of mergers during 17 years at the top.

He entered the brewing industry when, in 1989, he joined the Brazilian brewer Brahma.

It merged in 1999 with Antarctica, its local rival, to create AmBev – a company dominating the vast Latin American beer market.

This was only the start of a series of deals.

Mr Brito became chief executive of AmBev at the beginning of 2004 and, within months, had unveiled an $11.5bn blockbuster tie-up with Interbrew, the Belgian brewer behind brands such as Stella Artois, Labatts and Rolling Rock.

A man walks past the logo of Corona beer (L), produced by Group Modelo, in Mexico City, Mexico January 27, 2017
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Mr Brito snapped up Mexico’s Modelo in 2012

The deal was presented in Belgium, which is proud of its brewing heritage, as a takeover by Interbrew.

But InBev, the company which emerged, was nonetheless headed by Mr Brito.

Next, in 2008, InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, for $52bn in cash to cement its position as the world’s biggest brewer.

The company was rechristened AB-InBev.

The global beer industry was rapidly consolidating into just a handful of players for, while InBev was guzzling the parent of Budweiser, Europeans Heineken and Carlsberg were teaming up to take over Britain’s Scottish & Newcastle.

The only company approaching the size of AB-Inbev was London-listed SABMiller.

This was itself a company built up during a decade’s worth of mergers and acquisitions masterminded by its inspirational chief executive, the late Graham Mackay.

Mr Mackay took the old South African Breweries, a company little-known outside its homeland, and made it a global giant with acquisitions of businesses such as Czech-based Pilsner Urquell, US-based Miller Brewing and, in 2011, the Australian brewer Foster’s.

Plzensky Prazdroj Brewery
***FILE PHOTO FROM JANUARY 22, 2009*** Pic: AP
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AB-InBev sold SABMiller brands including Pilsner Urquell Pic: AP

Back at AB-InBev, meanwhile, Mr Brito was pursuing another big takeover in the shape of Modelo, the Mexican brewer, which was snapped up in 2012 in a deal valuing it at $40bn.

By 2014, with some investors wondering how it was going to keep up momentum, AB-InBev was pondering its next acquisition.

With Heineken controlled by the wealthy Heineken family and Carlsberg protected by a trust, it quickly became obvious its likeliest target was SABMiller.

Many in the industry were concerned.

SABMiller was regarded – not least by its own executives – as being run by managers who were passionate about brewing and passionate about preserving a decentralised company structure and a big portfolio of local brands some of which, like Castle in South Africa, were steeped in the values of their local communities.

Culturally, it could not have been more different from AB-InBev, which was characterised as a gigantic acquisition vehicle run by a bunch of financial engineers.

Nonetheless, in 2016, AB-InBev prevailed with a $109bn takeover of SABMiller.

The deal made it more than four times the size of Heineken, its nearest competitor.

Jorge Paulo Lemann, Co-Founder and Board Member, 3G Capital; Board Member, Kraft Heinz, speaks at the Milken Institute's 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. April 30, 2018
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Mr Briton was the protégé of Jorge Paulo Lemann

This time, though, investors wondered whether Mr Brito had bitten off more than he could chew.

The deal saddled AB-InBev with more than $100bn of debt and numerous SABMiller brands were sold to reduce borrowings, most notably Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell, which were bought by Asahi of Japan

At the same time, alarmingly, AB-InBev’s sales growth slammed into reverse as millions of drinkers around the world switched from established brands to craft beers – a trend Mr Brito has been accused of being slow to pick up on.

In April 2020, as the world was going into lockdown, AB-InBev halved its dividend pay-out.

Mr Brito’s mentor throughout has been Jorge Paulo Lemann, a Brazilian-Swiss billionaire and former Brazilian national tennis champion, who played at Wimbledon in 1962.

The private equity firm he founded, 3G Capital, backed the merger of AmBev and Interbrew and has been influential in every deal the company has done since.

It also owned Burger King for a while and was instrumental in the 2015 merger of the US food giants Kraft and Heinz.

The combined Kraft-Heinz then shocked the food industry by making a takeover approach to Unilever, a company twice its size, which was beaten off amid concerns about widespread cost-cutting.

Michel Doukeris, Zone President of Asia Pacific of Anheuser-Busch InBev, poses during the opening ceremony for AB InBev Nanning Brewery in Wuming county, Nanning city, south Chinas Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 13 May 2014
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Mr Brito’s successor is AB-InBev’s North American chief Michel Doukeris Pic: AP

Mr Brito became Mr Lemann’s protégé when he was accepted for a place on the MBA programme at the prestigious Stanford University Business School – but realised he could not afford the tuition fees.

A friend arranged a meeting with Mr Lemann who agreed to support Mr Brito’s education on the basis that he provided him with regular updates on his progress and that, when he could afford to do so, he promised to provide similar support to others.

Throughout his career, Mr Brito has adhered to 3G’s mantra – relentless cost-cutting, restructuring and zero-based budgeting, where executives begin each financial year – or in some cases each quarter – with a blank sheet of paper on which they are obliged to spell out and justify any spending they wish to carry out.

It has made him and 3G’s backers – who have parleyed their original $250m stake in Brahma into a shareholding in AB-InBev worth $31bn at its peak – spectacularly wealthy.

But it has also left them open to criticism, as seen ahead of the SABMiller deal, that they are little more than cost-cutters.

Those concerns have intensified in recent years as AB-InBev’s growth has stuttered.

Some investors have worried whether a management team obsessed with cost-cutting is equipped to focus on organic growth – which, now AB-InBev has run out of acquisition targets, is going to be of increased importance.

Bottles of Brazilian beer of the brands Antarctica and Brahma are on display amongst other beer brands in a kiosk in Munich, Germany, 1 August 2014. Pic: AP
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Mr Brito started at Brazil’s Brahma, which merged with Antarctica in 1999 Pic: AP

It has not helped, in an industry packed with executives who love their product, that Mr Brito has often appeared more passionate about cost-cutting than beer.

Interviewers have even struggled at times to get him to name his favourite beer – although he has since admitted it is Budweiser, something he shares with his successor, AB-InBev’s North American chief Michel Doukeris.

AB-InBev, whose brands include Goose Island and Camden Pale Ale, is now one of the world’s biggest players in craft beer but the category still accounts for only 1% of its sales and Mr Brito himself has admitted in the past that the company needs to be communicating its position in the field more effectively.

In Britain, meanwhile, drinkers of a certain age remain resentful of AB-InBev’s refusal to invest meaningfully in Bass Ale, once the UK’s biggest-selling beer, or sell the brand to a new owner that would.

Not that Mr Brito will be too worried about that.

The boy who was educated for 12 years by Jesuits and whose hair-shirt approach includes wearing a plastic watch and flying business class only on journeys that are more than six hours long has had a dazzling career and enough money in the bank not to worry where the next beer will come from.

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Israeli investigation after 16-year-old Palestinian boy shot dead by soldiers | World News

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The Israeli authorities say they are investigating an incident in which soldiers shot dead a 16-year-old Palestinian boy.

Saeed Yusuf Muhammad Oudeh was shot in the back at about 9pm on Wednesday outside the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus.

In a statement to Sky News, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said: “Yesterday, during routine activity adjacent to the village of Beita, south of Nablus, a number of suspects hurled Molotov cocktails towards IDF troops.

“The troops responded according to open fire protocols, including firing towards the suspects. The incident is being investigated.”

However, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) dispute the suggestion that Oudeh was among those in a confrontation with the Israeli soldiers.

Defence for Children International – Palestine said: “Israeli forces reportedly confronted Palestinian youth at the village entrance prior to the shooting. Saeed was not involved in the confrontations at the time he was shot, according to information collected by our team.

“Israeli forces deployed in a nearby olive grove fired live ammunition at Saeed as he approached the village entrance. He sustained at least two gunshot wounds: in the back near his right shoulder and pelvis. Both bullets exited from the front.”

The Israeli authorities, who dismiss organisations like Defence for Children International as being anti-Israeli, have not yet provided further details on the incident.

The killing represents the latest spark in a fortnight of tension at a level not seen for five years.

Saeed Yusuf Muhammad Oudeh: Photo released by family
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Oudeh’s killing represents the latest spark in a fortnight of tension. Pic: Family photo

The Israeli security services launched a manhunt across the West Bank this week after three Israelis were shot in a drive-by attack last Sunday.

They included 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta who died of his injuries on Wednesday.

The shooting happened at Tapuah Junction south of Nablus, a busy intersection and bus stop used by Jewish settlers.

The mother of Saeed Yusuf Muhammad Oudeh is looked after by relatives after she fainted during her son's funeral
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Oudeh’s mother is looked after by relatives after she fainted during her son’s funeral

Montasser Shalabi, 44, was arrested by the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, on Wednesday near Ramallah.

A combination of factors has prompted the tension.

A planned eviction of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to make way for Israeli settlers has caused nightly confrontations.

An Israeli court said on Thursday that the eviction order has been delayed until next week.

The sister of Saeed Yusuf Muhammad Oudeh mourns at his funeral
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Oudeh’s sister mourns her sibling

Sundown on Sunday marks the beginning of Jerusalem Day where Israelis celebrate what they see as the reunification of the city after the Six Day War in 1967.

There is an expectation that hardline Israeli nationalists and Palestinians could clash.

The tension comes a time when both Israeli and Palestinian politics is in chaos.

Israeli politicians are still struggling to form a viable coalition government, and Palestinians recently called off their elections, planned for May, because Israel will not allow voting in East Jerusalem.



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Brazil: 20 killed including an officer in police shootout with drug traffickers | World News

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At least 20 people, including a police officer, have died in a shootout with drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro, according to local media.

The O Globo newspaper said two passengers on a metro train were also wounded in the shooting in Jacarezinho, a shanty town in northern Rio, Brazil.

The shootings, it said, happened during a police operation.

Police conduct an operation against alleged drug traffickers in the Jacarezinho favela of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
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At least 20 people are reported to have lost their lives Pic: AP /Silvia Izquierdo

An O Globo tweet said witnesses reported “fear and violence” in the neighbourhood.

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