FPCCI chief felicitates new FBR chief

KARACHI (INP): Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) President Zubair F Tufail has expressed his felicitation to Tariq Mahmood Pasha on his appointment as chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). The Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry chief hoped that the new incumbent would take long term and short term measures to gradually enhance Tax-to-GDP ratio to its actual potential as the low ratio is mother of all economic ills. He said that only 1.2 million returns are filed. “This underscores the need to bring all the sectors of the economy in tax-net and whenever the income is generated be taxed with political will as at present manufacturing sector is overly burdened (pay 70.4% of total taxes) in comparison to its contribution (20.3%) in GDP”, he added. Zubair proposed that FPCCI should be consulted in formulation of the tax policy to ensure its smooth implementation.

 

CPEC: LCCI chief demands ‘level playing field’ for local industries

LAHORE (APP): Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Saturday called for giving the local manufacturers a major role in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to give boost to the local industries. LCCI President Abdul Basit and Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan said that local industries should be given level playing field to get benefits and should be involved in the CPEC projects. They said that giving complete control to the foreign companies would be an injustice to the local industries, which were already working in challenging conditions. Meanwhile, a Chinese delegation of Shandong visited the LCCI and had a detailed discussion with its president and vice president on two-way trade and investment. On the occasion, Basit said that Lahore had a special significance being the hub of business activities in Punjab. Both public and private sector organisations were striving to fully exploit the trade and investment potential of Punjab in collaboration with foreign investors, he added.

He said that China was the first choice for Pakistani businessmen for joint ventures. He hoped that state-level cooperation would bring greater fortune to both the countries.

 

Buffett bets big on power with $9b Oncor deal

NEBRASKA (REUTERS): Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) has said that it agreed to pay $9 billion to buy the parent of Texas power transmission company Oncor Electric Delivery Co, stepping up its pursuit of steady profits from utilities and infrastructure deals. If the all-cash purchase wins approval from federal and state regulators and a bankruptcy judge, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Energy unit will assume control of one of the largest U.S. electricity transmission companies. "Buffett views infrastructure bets as a good long-term investment," said Steven Check, president of Check Capital Management Inc in Costa Mesa, California, which invests $300 million of the $1.4b it oversees in Berkshire. "With the relatively limited opportunities available to a company of Berkshire's size, investments such as Oncor that are likely to yield 8 to 10 percent annually are acceptable," Check added. The acquisition also highlights the growing prominence of Greg Abel, 55, Berkshire Hathaway Energy's chief executive.

Investors consider him a top candidate to succeed Buffett, 86, at the Omaha, Nebraska-based parent company's helm. Abel and other Berkshire Hathaway Energy executives were not available on Friday for interviews. Buffett's office did not respond to separate interview requests.

Dallas-based Oncor delivers power to more than 3.4 million homes and businesses through roughly 122,000 miles (196,000 km) of transmission and distribution lines. It is 80 percent owned by Energy Future Holdings Corp, the company Berkshire has agreed to buy out of bankruptcy.

Oncor posted $431 million of profit in 2016, and similar sums in the prior three years. Buffett values such consistency, telling Berkshire shareholders in February that utilities generate "recession-resistant" earnings because they offer an "essential service" that generates "remarkably steady" demand.

Meanwhile, Abel said in a statement the companies "share a common goal of providing exceptional customer service and a commitment to invest in critical infrastructure." Abel has also been deepening his commitment to renewable energy, including wind, generating tax credits that bolster Berkshire's balance sheet. His unit also owns HomeServices of America, a big residential real estate brokerage.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy typically generates nearly 10 percent of its parent's profit, contributing $2.29 billion to an overall $24.07 billion in 2016. "Buffett has always had a lot of confidence in Greg Abel, and wouldn't mind putting a nearly unlimited number of businesses under his watch," Check said.

 

Veolia has leeway for multi-billion euro acquisition: CEO

LONDON (REUTERS): French utility Veolia (VIE.PA) has the financial firepower to make a multi-billion euro acquisition, its chief executive said on Saturday. The firm's biggest domestic rival, Suez (SEVI.PA), announced the $3.4 billion purchase of GE Water from General Electric (GE.N) in March. Asked whether Veolia could spend as much on an acquisition, its boss Antoine Frerot told Reuters the size of the group's balance sheet "would allow it". Frerot, who earlier this year said he would favor organic growth for the business, laid out two conditions for any future large acquisition. "It would need to create new large-size activities for the company and over a long period of at least 10 to 15 years," Frerot said in an interview at a business conference in the southeastern city of Aix-en-Provence. "If we found this, then obviously we'd have the means to do it," he said, declining to elaborate on possible targets.

Veolia, which also cleans up nuclear facilities and treats low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, could also benefit from a 50-billion-euro ($57 billion) upgrade of French nuclear sites operated by energy provider EDF (EDF.PA), Frerot said. EDF's upgrade is scheduled for 2014-2025 and aims to extend the life expectancy of its nuclear installations by more than 40 years.

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