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Steven Mnuchin, who stands to be the third Goldman Sachs alum to serve as Treasury secretary in the past 17 years, offered some encouraging words for his former colleagues hoping that a Donald Trump administration will loosen regulations on Wall Street. Mnuchin said the president-elect’s “number-one priority on the regulatory side” would be to “strip back” certain parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, President Barack Obama’s signature financial-reform package.

“The number-one problem with Dodd-Frank is that it’s way too complicated and cuts back lending,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview Wednesday.

While Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer has vowed to block any legislative changes to Dodd-Frank, there remains much a Trump administration can do to weaken the law without congressional approval. For instance, it can roll back or simply not enforce regulations created to carry out the law.

Consider the Volcker Rule, which at heart is a simple idea: Government-guaranteed banks can’t use their own capital to make risky bets in the market. But the banks lobbied fiercely to establish very specific rules of the road, and their efforts led to a final version of the law that grew to 272 mind-numbing pages. Mnuchin told CNBC the Volcker Rule is “too complicated and people don’t know how to interpret it. We’re going to look at what to do with it, as we are with all of Dodd-Frank.”

At a conference last month, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker defended the rule he fought to implement in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. “Go and speculate all you like,” he said, “but not on my dime.”

Mnuchin’s contention that regulation has caused banks to dial back credit is contradicted by Federal Reserve data showing that lenders have become more accommodating in recent years, especially when it comes to small-business loans.

A Fed study released in March of some 3,500 small companies across the country found that 47% had applied for credit last year, and about 80% of them got some or all of the financing they wanted, a big increase from 2014, when 65% of firms were approved, and 2013, when just 54% received financing. The study also found that just one in five small businesses seeking credit was denied a loan last year, down from 35% in 2014 and 44% in 2013.

If confirmed, Mnuchin would be the third Goldman executive to serve as Treasury secretary, following Robert Rubin, who served in the Bill Clinton administration from 1995 to 1999, and Hank Paulson, who worked under George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009. Both had much more senior roles within Goldman and were better known outside the firm than Mnuchin. Rubin was co-chairman and co-senior partner when he left for Washington, and Paulson was the chairman and CEO. Mnuchin was a Goldman partner who specialized in mortgage and government-debt trading before leaving in 1999 to launch a hedge fund called Dune Capital. He bought OneWest, a failed California thrift, after the financial crisis and later sold it to CIT Group. He now serves on the Manhattan-based lender’s board. He also produced several films, including Batman v Superman and The Lego Movie, before becoming finance chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign.

“We view Mnuchin as a blank slate,” wrote Brian Gardner, an analyst at financial-services advisory firm Keefe Bruyette & Woods, before the Treasury nominee’s CNBC appearance.

Stripping back Dodd-Frank could also have a considerable impact on the city’s economy as many accounting and consulting firms have invested heavily in people and technology to help banks, hedge funds and private-equity firms comply with the law. The Jersey City-based Global Association of Risk Professionals saw membership increase by 70% between 2009 and 2014, the year when more than 32,000 people took its test to become certified risk managers.

In addition to shackling financial institutions with lots of new regulations, Dodd-Frank steered Wall Street to change its hiring and pay practices. Many bankers and traders were shown the door and replaced by people in audit, risk and compliance roles. In 2013, the highest bonus at Citigroup was awarded to the chief risk officer. Last year, Bank of America paid its chief risk officer $8.7 million, about the same amount that went to the executive who heads Merrill Lynch.

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EDITORIAL COMMENT : Other firms can learn from Old Mutual

Old Mutual

Old Mutual

Government and the private sector should draw valuable lessons from the listing of Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited (OMZIL) empowerment shares on the Financial Securities (FINSEC) Alternative Trading Platform (ATP) set for today.The diversified financial services group will become the first company, in line with its approved indigenisation implementation plan, to trade a total of 83 011 718 issued and fully paid B Class shares in the capital of the company.

As reported in The Herald Business yesterday, the shares have a nominal value of $0,0000032 per share.

We are heartened to see a group such as Old Mutual Zimbabwe warming up to the indigenisation plan.

The first lesson we can draw from the trade is that the Government’s empowerment programme is not some dinosaur seeking to devour the corporate sector. Caledonia Mine successfully indigenised and its community in Matabeleland South is reaping the benefits of this programme. And BAT Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company, also gave its workers shareholding under its plan and with the recent bull run on its share price, the employees are now fully empowered. Other companies such as Schweppes and PPC also had their empowerment plans implemented.

There has always been a chorus of detractors pouring scorn on the indigenisation programme, seeking to paint the picture of an evil machination by Government designed to rip industry off its profits and shareholding.

Private and international media and local opposition elements keen to advance their foreign masters’ plans, have all out-stampeded each other to condemn the noble empowerment plans.

And for years we have sought to highlight that the empowerment drive is not an election gimmick but a reality born out of the need to help the economically marginalised.

And here we are today.

Old Mutual Zimbabwe, one of the biggest corporates in the country, has just confirmed that.

Another lesson we can draw from this development is that the empowerment plan has been broadened to accommodate small buyers.

According to the Securities and Exchange Act (Cap 24:25), the ATP is a lower and second rate exchange.

It is an alternative to the traditional stock exchange. And this will allow those small traders who have for many years been shut out of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to participate.

The fact that trades happen on the open market enhances transparency in the empowerment programme. In the past there have been concerns relating to the distribution of shares in companies but trading on the ATP will ensure transparency.

Also, the market will determine the price of shares on the ATP and this will potentially deliver fair value.

With these lessons, we then call on other companies to take the same route and allow participation of the workers and local communities.

This could be an easier and yet more rewarding route for the corporates and the marginalised communities.

It is our fervent hope that we will see more corporates coming on board on the ATP to trade empowerment shares.

We are heartened by Government’s resolve to ensure that foreign-owned companies are partially indigenised as this gives Zimbabweans access to resources that have for long been in the hands of the elite.

We are pleased to note that OMZIL’s indigenisation plan, approved by the then Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, was concluded at a time when there was concerted effort to scuttle the programme. But OMZIL proceeded to follow the law to the letter.

Old Mutual has shown that it is a law abiding corporate citizen ready to contribute to the empowerment of Zimbabweans and ultimately economic development. Zimbabwe needs more of such corporates.

Government should push harder to have more Zimbabweans empowered. We need to see more initiatives focused on empowerment.

While Government is working on creating a conducive environment for business, the private sector must also do its part to comply with the law.

We say well done to Old Mutual for endorsing Government’s programme and congratulate FINSEC, a local firm, for having its first listing!

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EDITORIAL COMMENT : Other firms can learn from Old Mutual

Old Mutual

Government and the private sector should draw valuable lessons from the listing of Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited (OMZIL) empowerment shares on the Financial Securities (FINSEC) Alternative Trading Platform (ATP) set for today.The diversified financial services group will become the first company, in line with its approved indigenisation implementation plan, to trade a total of 83 011 718 issued and fully paid B Class shares in the capital of the company.

As reported in The Herald Business yesterday, the shares have a nominal value of $0,0000032 per share.

We are heartened to see a group such as Old Mutual Zimbabwe warming up to the indigenisation plan.

The first lesson we can draw from the trade is that the Government’s empowerment programme is not some dinosaur seeking to devour the corporate sector. Caledonia Mine successfully indigenised and its community in Matabeleland South is reaping the benefits of this programme. And BAT Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company, also gave its workers shareholding under its plan and with the recent bull run on its share price, the employees are now fully empowered. Other companies such as Schweppes and PPC also had their empowerment plans implemented.

There has always been a chorus of detractors pouring scorn on the indigenisation programme, seeking to paint the picture of an evil machination by Government designed to rip industry off its profits and shareholding.

Private and international media and local opposition elements keen to advance their foreign masters’ plans, have all out-stampeded each other to condemn the noble empowerment plans.

And for years we have sought to highlight that the empowerment drive is not an election gimmick but a reality born out of the need to help the economically marginalised.

And here we are today.

Old Mutual Zimbabwe, one of the biggest corporates in the country, has just confirmed that.

Another lesson we can draw from this development is that the empowerment plan has been broadened to accommodate small buyers.

According to the Securities and Exchange Act (Cap 24:25), the ATP is a lower and second rate exchange.

It is an alternative to the traditional stock exchange. And this will allow those small traders who have for many years been shut out of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to participate.

The fact that trades happen on the open market enhances transparency in the empowerment programme. In the past there have been concerns relating to the distribution of shares in companies but trading on the ATP will ensure transparency.

Also, the market will determine the price of shares on the ATP and this will potentially deliver fair value.

With these lessons, we then call on other companies to take the same route and allow participation of the workers and local communities.

This could be an easier and yet more rewarding route for the corporates and the marginalised communities.

It is our fervent hope that we will see more corporates coming on board on the ATP to trade empowerment shares.

We are heartened by Government’s resolve to ensure that foreign-owned companies are partially indigenised as this gives Zimbabweans access to resources that have for long been in the hands of the elite.

We are pleased to note that OMZIL’s indigenisation plan, approved by the then Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, was concluded at a time when there was concerted effort to scuttle the programme. But OMZIL proceeded to follow the law to the letter.

Old Mutual has shown that it is a law abiding corporate citizen ready to contribute to the empowerment of Zimbabweans and ultimately economic development. Zimbabwe needs more of such corporates.

Government should push harder to have more Zimbabweans empowered. We need to see more initiatives focused on empowerment.

While Government is working on creating a conducive environment for business, the private sector must also do its part to comply with the law.

We say well done to Old Mutual for endorsing Government’s programme and congratulate FINSEC, a local firm, for having its first listing!

(c) 2016 The Herald Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info)., source Middle East & North African Newspapers


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Victims' families oppose senators' bid to alter Sept. 11 law

WASHINGTON (AP) — The families of Sept. 11 victims are voicing their stern opposition to a proposed change to a new law that allows them to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged backing of the attackers, invoking the support of President-elect Donald Trump for their cause.

In a statement late Wednesday, they said the adjustment proposed by two Republican senators would “effectively gut” the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

But John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said their amendment is necessary to ensure that lawsuits can only be brought against countries that knowingly engaged in the financing or sponsorship of terrorism.

Congress handed Barack Obama the first veto override of his presidency in late September to overwhelming pass the law. Saudi Arabia, an important U.S. ally in the Middle East, fought to prevent the bill, known as JASTA, from being passed. The kingdom has hired a number of high-profile lobbying firms to work on its behalf.

Graham, who described the change as a “caveat” during remarks on the Senate floor, said he fears that without the change other countries could pass laws that hold the United States liable when civilians are killed or injured during a legitimate attack on a terrorist target.

“It protects the United States in its efforts to defend itself in a very dangerous world,” Graham said. “We don’t want to be sued under those circumstances.” That’s essentially the same reason Obama decided to veto the bill.

Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United For Justice Against Terrorism, said Graham and McCain are seeking to “torpedo” the law by making changes demanded by Saudi Arabia’s lobbyists.

“We have reviewed the language, and it is an absolute betrayal,” Strada said. “The president-elect has made his support for JASTA crystal clear, and there is zero risk that he will support this kind of backroom backstabbing of the 9/11 families.”

Trump had called Obama’s veto of JASTA in September “shameful” said it would “go down as one of the low points of his presidency.”

In their statement, the 9/11 families said the senators’ change is far more than a caveat. They are proposing “to add a specific jurisdictional defense Saudi Arabia has been relying on for the last 13 years to avoid having to face the 9/11 families’ evidence on the merits,” according to the statement.

They also said JASTA’s liability provision requires that the foreign state have “knowingly provided substantial assistance” to a designated terrorist organization in order for there to be liability.

Among the lobbying firms retained by Saudi Arabia is Squire Patton Boggs, which has a $100,000-a-month deal with the kingdom, according to registration documents filed with the U.S. Justice Department. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and former Louisiana Sen. John Breaux are on the firm’s team, which is providing the Saudi Royal Court with “legal and strategic policy advice and advocacy.”

The Saudis haven’t limited their lobbying to Congress, the records show. The Embassy of Saudi Arabia hired Qorvis MSL Group and Flywheel Government Solutions last month to educate governors and lieutenant governors “on the impacts and potential risks/threats that JASTA poses on their states’ business and economic interests, members of the military and national security,” according to the agreement.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican and one of the main sponsors of JASTA, said Wednesday that he doubted there’s time to change a bill that had so much support from Democrats and Republicans. Congress is scheduled to adjourn next week.

“Once Congress overwhelmingly overrides a president’s veto, to me the opponents have a pretty steep hill to climb,” Cornyn said.

Follow Richard Lardner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rplardner


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ICT exec: Firms wait-and-see how Trump victory can affect industry

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 Nov) – An official of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Council here said that Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies operating in the country are on a wait-and-see how the industry will be affected under the leadership of United States president-elect Donald Trump.

Lawyer Samuel Matunog, ICT-Davao president, told a press conference Wednesday that he anticipates that an impact will not be felt immediately after Trump’s win in the US elections last November 8.

He said majority of BPO companies operating in the Philippines are catering to the US market.

But Matunog said that US companies who are present in the country are taking advantage of their presence here by expanding their operations outside the Mega Manila, to prime urban cities in the countryside, hiring efficient workers having the right skills.

The ICT official said that the industry is not only going towards strengthening the voice sector but also the manufacturing side of it, like software development and game development.

Last November 9, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said that that stock market investors in the country are wary of Trump.

He confessed that he himself was not sure what the effects of a Trump presidency will have.

“We are not sure of a Trump presidency, what policies they will follow. President and candidate are two different people, so we will have to wait and see what policies a Trump presidency will implement,” he said.

Socioeconomic planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said he believes that Trump’s victory will not affect adversely the Philippine economy since US companies who are investing in the country have the freedom where they want to expand their business.

“The US economy is private-sector driven… I do not think Trump can compel where the private investments will go whether it should be in the US or outside. It’s the decision of the firms and not the government, unless there is a way of penalizing them,” he said.

Matunog, however, lauded President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s move to open the country to foreign telecommunications and power investors that will trigger competitive rates in the country, which are essential for the BPO companies. The President said last Nov. 24 after his return from participating in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit..

Duterte said that he saw the need to create competition to make the country move faster by driving its growth by strengthening power and communications.

“I’d like to send this strong message – it’s about time that we share the money of the entire country, and to move faster, make competition open to all kasi pagkaganito with the corrupt government and with limited area to move, you’ll stymy competition and we will always be at the mercy of the corrupt of this planet,” he said.

He added that they are finalizing plans and looking into regulatory requirements and institutional arrangements to hasten the entry of new players in the communication and power sectors.

“Multibillions – multi is the first name, billion is the last name. Bakit ako magdadalawang isip. And I do not owe you anything, that’s precisely the reason why I was avoiding you during the last election,” Duterte said.

He told the companies to bring down the charges and improve the services and he might change his mind on opening up the country.

“The Philippines acknowledged the significant role of more vibrant telecommunications and power industry to be able to participate in the global market with a competitive edge, recognizing the importance of law enforcement, creating an enabling, safe and secure business environment. We are also committed to enhance the capability of our police force,” he said.

Duterte acknowledged that corruption in government is also true to the other members of the international community but added that while they have yet to come out with concrete steps to address it, he could not afford to just wait-and-see. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

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Other firms can learn from Old Mutual

Old Mutual

Government and the private sector should draw valuable lessons from the listing of Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited (OMZIL) empowerment shares on the Financial Securities (FINSEC) Alternative Trading Platform (ATP) set for today.The diversified financial services group will become the first company, in line with its approved indigenisation implementation plan, to trade a total of 83 011 718 issued and fully paid B Class shares in the capital of the company.

As reported in The Herald Business yesterday, the shares have a nominal value of $0,0000032 per share.

We are heartened to see a group such as Old Mutual Zimbabwe warming up to the indigenisation plan.

The first lesson we can draw from the trade is that the Government’s empowerment programme is not some dinosaur seeking to devour the corporate sector. Caledonia Mine successfully indigenised and its community in Matabeleland South is reaping the benefits of this programme. And BAT Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company, also gave its workers shareholding under its plan and with the recent bull run on its share price, the employees are now fully empowered. Other companies such as Schweppes and PPC also had their empowerment plans implemented.

There has always been a chorus of detractors pouring scorn on the indigenisation programme, seeking to paint the picture of an evil machination by Government designed to rip industry off its profits and shareholding.

Private and international media and local opposition elements keen to advance their foreign masters’ plans, have all out-stampeded each other to condemn the noble empowerment plans.

And for years we have sought to highlight that the empowerment drive is not an election gimmick but a reality born out of the need to help the economically marginalised.

And here we are today.

Old Mutual Zimbabwe, one of the biggest corporates in the country, has just confirmed that.

Another lesson we can draw from this development is that the empowerment plan has been broadened to accommodate small buyers.

According to the Securities and Exchange Act (Cap 24:25), the ATP is a lower and second rate exchange.

It is an alternative to the traditional stock exchange. And this will allow those small traders who have for many years been shut out of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to participate.

The fact that trades happen on the open market enhances transparency in the empowerment programme. In the past there have been concerns relating to the distribution of shares in companies but trading on the ATP will ensure transparency.

Also, the market will determine the price of shares on the ATP and this will potentially deliver fair value.

With these lessons, we then call on other companies to take the same route and allow participation of the workers and local communities.

This could be an easier and yet more rewarding route for the corporates and the marginalised communities.

It is our fervent hope that we will see more corporates coming on board on the ATP to trade empowerment shares.

We are heartened by Government’s resolve to ensure that foreign-owned companies are partially indigenised as this gives Zimbabweans access to resources that have for long been in the hands of the elite.

We are pleased to note that OMZIL’s indigenisation plan, approved by the then Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, was concluded at a time when there was concerted effort to scuttle the programme. But OMZIL proceeded to follow the law to the letter.

Old Mutual has shown that it is a law abiding corporate citizen ready to contribute to the empowerment of Zimbabweans and ultimately economic development. Zimbabwe needs more of such corporates.

Government should push harder to have more Zimbabweans empowered. We need to see more initiatives focused on empowerment.

While Government is working on creating a conducive environment for business, the private sector must also do its part to comply with the law.

We say well done to Old Mutual for endorsing Government’s programme and congratulate FINSEC, a local firm, for having its first listing!

(c) 2016 The Herald Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info)., source Middle East & North African Newspapers


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Dow reaches records again as energy firms surge







New York • The Dow Jones industrial average is trading at a record high Wednesday, helped by blue-chip energy companies and banks.

Oil stocks climbed after OPEC nations, which collectively produce more than one-third of the world’s oil, agreed to trim production for the first time in eight years. Banks are also rising sharply as bond yields and interest rates increase.

Other U.S. indexes are little changed or lower as high-dividend stocks like utilities, real estate companies and phone companies fall. Technology and health care companies were also taking losses.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow rose 70 points, or 0.4 percent, to 19,191 as of 11:45 a.m. Mountain time. Earlier it touched an all-time high of 19,225. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,208 and also set an intraday record of 2,214 shortly after the start of trading. The Nasdaq composite lost 34 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,346.







Stocks are poised to close sharply higher for the month of November. The Dow is up 5.8 percent and the S&P 500 is up 3.8 percent in November, their best month since March. The Russell 2000, a collection of mostly smaller companies, has soared 11.5 percent this month alone, it’s best month since October 2011.

OIL WATCH: OPEC members finalized a deal that will cut their oil output by 1.2 million barrels a day starting in January. Preliminary terms of the deal were announced in September. It’s the first time in eight years that the cartel has agreed to cut production. Russia, another major oil-producing country that is not part of OPEC, also agreed to cut its output.

The price of U.S. crude surged $4.05, or 9 percent, to $49.28 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international benchmark, gained $4.57, or 9.7 percent, to $51.99 a barrel in London.

Crude dropped almost 4 percent Tuesday as investors felt a deal was becoming less likely.

ENERGY COMPANIES: Higher oil prices mean more revenue for companies that extract or sell oil, and energy companies made big gains Wednesday. Exxon Mobil picked up $2.07, or 2.4 percent, to $87.96 and Chevron rose $3.03, or 3 percent, to $112.36.

More specialized oil companies, particularly drillers and oil exploration companies and companies who support drillers, soared. Marathon Oil leaped $3, or 20 percent, to $17.95. Ocean rig operator Transocean jumped $2.05, or 19 percent, to $13.07.

BANKS: Banks rose as members of President-elect Donald Trump’s economic team discussed ways to make it easier for banks to lend more money, which could lead to larger profits for financial institutions. Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s proposed nominee for Treasury secretary, said the administration wants to make changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank law because it makes it harder for banks to lend. The law was passed to prevent another financial crisis, but critics say it went too far and stopped banks from making loans that people and businesses need to spend and hire.

Goldman Sachs rose $7.05, or 3.3 percent, to $218.76 and JPMorgan Chase added $1.08, or 1.4 percent, to $80.08. Fifth Third Bancorp gained 66 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $26.05.

BLUE CHIPS CASH IN: The gains were concentrated among a small number big-name companies. Goldman Sachs and Chevron alone accounted for all of the gain in the Dow, which contains just 30 stocks. On the New York Stock Exchange, more stocks were falling than rising.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note jumped to 2.37 percent from 2.29 percent, its highest level since mid-2015. Bond yields are linked to higher interest rates.

High-dividend stocks slumped. Investors who want income tend to buy those stocks when bond yields are low and then sell them again when bond yields rise.

Utilities, real estate investment trusts and phone companies took the largest losses on the market.

TECH TRIPPED UP: Technology companies were in decline. Design software company Autodesk dropped $2.86, or 3.8 percent, to $72.40 after it gave a weak revenue outlook for the current quarter. Credit card companies fell, too. Visa dipped $1.20, or 1.5 percent, to $77.95 and MasterCard skidded $1.48, or 1.4 percent, to $102.34.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose. It climbed to 114.19 yen from 112.33 yen. The euro fell to $1.0589 from $1.0647.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 closed up 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain and Germany’s DAX both picked up 0.2 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was flat and the Kospi of South Korea gained 0.3 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent.








































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Tobacco firms lose plain packaging appeal

Three tobacco companies have lost their appeal against the government’s plain packaging rules for cigarettes packs.

The case, brought by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, comes after a challenge against the new rules was dismissed at the High Court in May.

The UK is the first country in Europe to require cigarettes to be sold in plain, standardised packaging,

The government has said it means a generation will “grow up smoke-free”.

What’s going on with cigarette packets?

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH, said: “This is a victory for public health and another crushing defeat for the tobacco industry.

“This ruling should also encourage other countries to press ahead with standardised packaging, now that the industry’s arguments have yet again been shown to be without foundation.”

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said the government was targeting the consumer as well as the tobacco industry with the new rules.

“Plain packs are unlikely to stop people smoking but the impact on consumer choice could be significant because some brands will almost certainly disappear from the market.

“Tobacco is a legal product. The law should not impose excessive regulations on consumers who know the health risks and don’t need this type of finger-wagging measure.”

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Tobacco firms fail to stop UK introduction of plain packaging

Court of appeal rejects companies’ latest attempt to block rules that will force them to remove distinctive branding from packs

Plain cigarette packaging
Cigarette packs will now show the brand name in standard typeface and size, with prominent health warnings.
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The latest attempt by tobacco companies to prevent the introduction of mandatory plain packaging of cigarettes in the UK has been rejected by the court of appeal.

The judgment is a fresh blow to companies who face having to replace their current heavily branded distinctive packs with boxes that are indistinguishable from each other bar the brand name on the packet in standard typeface, colour and size.

The regulations aim to reduce the appeal and uptake of smoking, by children and young people in particular, help smokers to quit, prevent misleading packaging, and give greater prominence to health warnings.

But British American, Imperial, Japan International and Philip Morris claim that the move would infringe their human and intellectual property rights.

In May, the high court rejected their arguments, the day before the tobacco products directive of the EU took effect. Some of the companies took the case to the court of appeal last month but, on Wednesday, the three judges, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, dismissed the challenge.

Lord Justice Lewison, Lord Justice Beatson and Sir Stephen Richards ruled that the health secretary had “lawfully exercised his powers”.

The companies now have the option of appealing to the supreme court.

Nicola Blackwood, the public health and innovation minister, said: “Standardised packaging will help cut smoking rates and reduce suffering, disease and loss of life. We are pleased that this decision will help many people to lead longer and healthier lives.”

Since May, legal challenge notwithstanding, companies have been forbidden from making packets that do not comply with the directive. However, they are allowed to sell off existing cigarette stocks until May next year, which means plain packets will only emerge in the shops gradually.

The new packs will be the same shape, size and colour (green) and 65% of the front and back surfaces will be covered by picture health warnings, with written warnings on the sides.

Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of the health charity Ash, said: “This is a victory for public health and another crushing defeat for the tobacco industry. This ruling should also encourage other countries to press ahead with standardised packaging, now that the industry’s arguments have yet again been shown to be without foundation.”

Simon Clark, the director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “By stigmatising the product, the government is also targeting the user. Plain packs are unlikely to deter people from smoking but the impact on consumer choice could be significant because some brands will almost certainly disappear from the market.

“Tobacco is a legal product. The law should not impose excessive regulations on consumers who know the health risks and don’t need this type of finger-wagging measure.”

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Tobacco firms lose latest court challenge over plain package rules in the UK

Tobacco giants have lost the latest round of their legal battle against the British Government’s new plain-packaging rules.

In May, they suffered what anti-smoking campaigners described as a ”crushing defeat” at the British High Court.

The day before new regulations come into force, a judge in London had declared that they were ”valid and lawful in all respects”.

Mr Justice Green rejected a judicial review action brought against Britain’s Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Leading companies then took their case on to the Court of Appeal.

But on Wednesday, three judges in London rejected their challenge against the High Court’s decision.

An example of the packaging on a cigarette box that was to be introduced in Ireland.

A number of companies, including British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, challenged the legality of the ”standardised packaging” regulations.

They argued that the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 would destroy valuable property rights and render products indistinguishable from each other.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Lewison, Lord Justice Beatson and Sir Stephen Richards ruled that the Health Secretary had “lawfully exercised his powers”.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Ash, said: “This is a victory for public health and another crushing defeat for the tobacco industry.

“This ruling should also encourage other countries to press ahead with standardised packaging, now that the industry’s arguments have yet again been shown to be without foundation.”

A British American Tobacco spokeswoman said: “Despite today’s decision, we remain firm in our belief that plain packaging is an ineffective policy that doesn’t work to reduce smoking levels – and it’s important to remember this decision by the Court of Appeal is not an endorsement of the effectiveness of this measure.

“In upholding the original decision, we remain concerned that the Court of Appeal has made many of the same fundamental errors of law as the original judge.

“These are issues of significant constitutional and commercial importance which, if left unchallenged, would have serious implications for other legitimate businesses and for the ability of the Government to act first and justify later when it comes to regulation.

“Today’s decision is disappointing.

“However, it does not necessarily mark the end of the challenge and, given the importance of this issue, we are considering our options carefully.

“It’s important to point out that this decision is not a green light for governments to introduce plain packaging, and those considering it must first ensure that the measure complies with the fundamental rights of businesses in their country, as well as with their international law obligations.

“Governments should also take note that the World Trade Organisation dispute on plain packaging is still ongoing.”

The appeal judges gave the tobacco companies until December 9 to make any application to them for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court in the UK.


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