Three small Canadian oil companies agree to merge

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – A trio of small oil and gas companies said on Thursday they have agreed to combine to form a mid-sized Canadian producer, focusing on light crude in Alberta and paying dividends. Pace Oil and Gas Ltd , AvenEx Energy Corp and Charger Energy Corp said they would offer new shares in a combined operation known as Spyglass Resources Corp that will produce about 18,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. It will be led by former Provident Energy executives, Tom Buchanan as chief executive and Dan O’Byrne as president, the companies said. …
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ICE CEO says proposal to buy NYSE ‘well received’ by regulators

Dec 20 (Reuters) – IntercontinentalExchange Inc’s $8.2 billion proposal to acquire NYSE Euronext has been”well received” by regulators, ICE Chief Executive JeffreySprecher said on Thursday. Sprecher said he and NYSE CEO Duncan Niederaur justcompleted a “whirlwind tour” visiting global regulators,particularly the five regulators that oversee the variousmarkets in Europe, ahead of their announcement of the deal onThursday morning.
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Minister’s Gaffe Cuts Right To The Heart Of Saudi Arabia’s Labor Crisis

saudi arabia Event

In the wake of growing disquiet over the government’s increasingly punitive attempts to force companies to hire Saudis, the labour minister, Adel Fakieh, has admitted that 86% of the jobs performed by expatriates are not suitable for Saudi nationals.

Analysis

Mr Fakieh’s comment will no doubt have caused some consternation among the country’s businesses, which have been struggling to come to terms with the recent imposition of a levy imposed on firms with a majority of foreign workers; according to the new rule, firms must pay an annual fee of SR2,400 (US$640) for each surplus foreigner. By admitting in an interview with a daily newspaper, Al Sharq, that 86% of expatriate workers do “menial jobs that do not suit Saudis”, he has in effect acknowledged the unrealistic nature of the target (especially for companies such as contractors and cleaners, which have been most vociferous in their complaints).

Furthermore, in comments that would appear only to reinforce businesses’ argument, he acknowledged that fully 86% of expatriate workers in the kingdom receive a monthly salary of less than SR2,000-a figure equivalent to the present monthly unemployment benefit for Saudis, and far below the minimum wage target set by the Ministry of Labour for Saudi workers (any Saudi receiving less than SR3,000 is deemed as being just half a worker according to the labour ministry’s categorisation).

With this in mind, it is little surprise that the increased costs confronted by businesses-both in hiring more expensive Saudis, and now paying a higher levy on their foreign workers-are being passed on to the consumer, with the chief executive of the Consumer Protection Association, Nasser al-Toam, saying on December 14th that price rises had already been observed, adding that the new fee on foreign labour “will have negative implications for the consumer”. In response, even the country’s typically pliant, all-appointed Shoura Council is voicing criticism of the levy, with the Council’s Management and Human Resources Committee reportedly pressing ministry officials to reconsider their decision on the new expatriate levy. In light of Mr Fakieh’s latest comments, it would seem that they may well achieve their aim.

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Potentially game changing data awaits Acorda in 2013

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Acorda Therapeutics Inc Chief Executive Ron Cohen is already looking to spring, when data on a new use for its lone product could spur renewed investor interest and provide funding to enable his company to develop even more therapies. The 2010 approval of Ampyra to improve walking in multiple sclerosis patients turned Acorda into a profitable company last year. If the drug can also help stroke victims who have suffered long term disability, it would open a large new market for Ampyra. …
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Citigroup not looking to fill chief operating officer’s spot: WSJ

(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc’s chief executive, Michael Corbat, is not looking to fill the positions of president and chief operating officer, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. Michael Corbat, who took over as chief executive following Vikram Pandit’s resignation in October, briefed the board on his thinking at meetings last week, the paper said. An announcement is expected early next year, the Journal said. The former chief operating officer, John Havens, resigned when Pandit did. A Citi spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. …
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