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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Kari Lydersen for Midwest Energy News:Peabody Energy is one of the country’s largest coal companies, supplying power plants and steel mills around the world.But in the past few years the company’s fortunes have plummeted, and environmental leaders don’t believe Peabody’s promises that, when the time comes, it will be able to pay more than $250 million to clean up its Illinois Basin mines.Under federal law, mining companies must set aside money to pay for reclamation once mining stops. This is generally done through insurance policies known as surety bonds. But the government also allows companies in good financial shape to “self-bond,” promising that their own assets will be able to cover the cost of reclamation.A decade ago, Peabody Energy would have been considered a robust company, and there were few concerns about its self-bonding arrangements.Today it’s a different story. And industry experts doubt that the plan Peabody executives described on an earnings call earlier this month will do much to turn the tide, given the rapid retreat of coal-fired power and the slowing of China’s economy that’s a major factor in worldwide coal demand.“The risk is that Peabody’s responsibility to clean up from its mining operations will be washed away in a bankruptcy proceeding, and Illinois taxpayers will be left holding the financial bag,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). “That’s unacceptable.”The ELPC on February 12 filed citizen complaints on behalf of Illinois and Indiana residents calling on the states to require Peabody to revise its self-bonding agreements. If this doesn’t happen, the complaint asks for the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE) to charge the company with violations of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA).Meanwhile, Peabody is proposing a debt swap to shore up its finances, and offering three mines in the Illinois Basin and one in Arizona as collateral for credit holders. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) released a study this month arguing that Peabody’s financial predictions for the Illinois Basin mines are too rosy and “unsustainable,” potentially meaning more bad news for the company and for its mine reclamation prospects if those debts go bad.“They pretty much think they can reduce their commitments through the bankruptcy process,” said IEEFA finance director Tom Sanzillo, former first deputy comptroller of New York and an expert on bankruptcy. “We’re very concerned about this, and the states are being reckless in how they’re managing a federal program.”Peabody’s problemsOn the earnings call, Peabody CFO and executive vice president Amy Schwetz described 2015 revenues of $5.6 billion, down 17 percent from the previous year. In 2012, Peabody’s revenue was $8.1 billion.Executives blamed the decline on falling coal prices and low sales volume, driven in part by a mild winter which has decreased demand for power, and on the slowing economy in China. They noted that coal revenues have been impacted by low natural gas prices, which make coal-fired power less competitive.Peabody’s mines are concentrated in Australia and in the U.S. West and Midwest. Peabody has massive holdings in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, which ships coal to power plants in the Midwest; and the company mines in the Illinois Basin, in Indiana and Illinois. The IEEFA says that coal prices in the Powder River Basin have dropped 19 percent since 2012, and prices in the Illinois Basin have dropped 38 percent since that time.“There is no doubt our debt and equity are trading at distressed levels, which is indicative of the headwinds the industry is facing,” said Peabody CEO and President Glenn Kellow on the earnings call. “And, whilst we fully expect 2016 to be another trying year for the U.S. coal industry, we continue to believe that our leading positions in the lowest-cost basins will best position us to benefit from any rise in natural gas prices and coal demand over time.Peabody Energy did not take questions after the earnings call and did not respond to a request for comment for this story.“This is moving fast,” said Learner. “You’re watching the coal industry deteriorate not because of the so-called war on coal – it’s simply not competing well in the market.”Self-bonding concernsCiting Peabody’s 2015 year-end financial results, the ELPC complaint charges that Peabody does not meet the federal requirements for self-bonding, that “the applicant has a ratio of liabilities to net worth of 2.5 or less and a ratio of current assets to liabilities of 1.2 or greater.”“Peabody Energy has a ratio of liabilities to net worth of 11.6 and a ratio of current assets to liabilities of 0.84,” the complaints note.Peabody’s Illinois Basin self-bonding is done through a wholly-owned subsidiary of Peabody Energy, Peabody Investments Corporation.Experts say that if Peabody Energy declares bankruptcy, its subsidiary would not be able to make good on the self-bonding and cover the costs of reclamation. The federal regulations on self-bonding, developed in 1983, make clear that companies with a chance of bankruptcy should not be eligible.Companies are required to report to regulators if they have a significant deterioration in their financial condition. And even if they don’t report, it is regulators’ responsibility to keep an eye on the situation and ask the tough questions, in Sanzillo’s view. If a company’s position declines to the point that it can’t be trusted to cover its self-bonds, regulators have the power to demand a different reclamation guarantee.Peabody’s plansWith the debt swap, Peabody is hoping to reduce the principal of $1.5 billion in debt by $730 million, also reducing annual interest payments by $47 million.“Relative to the overall size of the Peabody debt burden and ongoing net losses, the savings are too small to have a meaningful impact on company finances,” says the IEEFA report.As part of its financial efforts, Peabody is selling its share of the troubled Prairie State Energy Campus in central Illinois. Peabody was one of the originators of the plant billed as an innovative “clean coal” “mine-to-mouth” operation fired by coal from an adjacent mine.The cost of the plant and its electricity has ballooned beyond original projections, and Peabody reduced its stake to a 5 percent ownership while municipalities and power authorities across the Midwest have been saddled with deals forcing them to pay well above market rate for power. Peabody is now selling its share to the Wabash Valley Power Association for $57 million. According to the IEEFA’s analysis of SEC filings, Peabody has invested $246 million in Prairie State.“They’re taking a haircut on this investment even though they’re saying they took a gain, which explains to me why they’re [potentially headed for] bankruptcy,” said Sanzillo. “They can’t tell a loss from a gain.”A dark future for coal?The precarious reclamation situation and the offering of three Illinois mines as collateral for Peabody’s debt swap could put pressure on the company to keep mines running that would otherwise be shuttered. This could contribute to a vicious cycle of increasing supply and diminishing coal prices.“The continuation of the self-bonding while these companies are in financial distress creates the conditions for them to maintain mines that should be closed,” said Sanzillo. “It’s a zombie mine, a dead mine that’s still alive – chasing a ghost market.”The Illinois Basin mines offered as collateral are the Wild Boar mine and Francisco Mine in Indiana, and the Gateway Mine in southern Illinois.“If they can’t come up with the premium payments or no one will insure them, then they need to close the mines,” Sanzillo continued. “No, they don’t have the money for reclamation. So the state would have a claim. I would just sue immediately, get in line on their bankruptcies.”An investigation released by Reuters in June 2015 noted that Peabody and the nation’s three other largest coal companies – Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Cloud Peak Energy – have $2.7 billion worth of future reclamation costs covered by self-bonding. Arch and Alpha, which have both declared bankruptcy, are also under federal scrutiny for their self-bonding practices.“If the industry was disciplined and realized the price of coal isn’t sufficient to cover what they’re doing, they should be closing mines – to tighten the supply, to increase the price and do better,” Sanzillo said. “We look at the fundamentals – the price of coal won’t carry it any time for the foreseeable future. You cut through the smoke…and the mule can’t pull the cart anymore.”Critics: Peabody can no longer be counted on to clean up coal mines Skeptics Say Peabody Is So Broke It Can’t Even Clean Up After Itselflast_img read more

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: mjcohe02@syr.edu | @Michael_Cohen13 With an ice bag pressed to the side of his head, Robbie Hughes trudged across the field. Seventy-five yards. Then back again. On the heels of Wednesday’s 5-1 blowout loss to Siena and with a ‘little bump’ — actually the size of a ping pong ball — sticking out of his head, the Syracuse freshman defender looked gassed. ‘After the final whistle tonight we wipe the slate clean, and we go again,’ he said. ‘And we work hard.’ The sooner the Orange can wipe the slate clean, the better. Players and coaches have a lot of goals to erase from their minds.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Not since 2003 had SU allowed an opponent to score five goals in a game, and unfortunately for new head coach Ian McIntyre, it happened in his debut. Syracuse (0-1-0) dropped its 2010 season opener Wednesday night to Siena in front of 1,231 spectators at SU soccer stadium. The Saints (1-0-0) scored three of their five goals on set pieces and took advantage of an inexperienced Syracuse lineup that is still searching for the right combination ‘We started seven new guys,’ McIntyre said. ‘I think we played over 10 new guys. A lot of them made their collegiate debuts. But that’s not an excuse, and we don’t want to use that as an excuse.’ McIntyre doesn’t want Wednesday’s result labeled a product of new faces in new places, but that might be the problem. Twenty of the 30 players on SU’s roster are new to the program this season, and 11 of those saw playing time. Siena took advantage early of a defensive unit that hasn’t seen much time on the field together. The Saints got on the board just five minutes into the game on a header by Falko Friedrichs off of a corner kick. Friedrichs was all alone at the six-yard box with no Orange defenders around. Siena’s second goal was much the same. Just minutes before the half, Friedrichs headed in another after, connecting with a flip throw from teammate Joey Tavernese. Again Friedrichs found himself alone in front of the goal. Two instances of miscommunication by the Orange defense. Two goals for the Saints. ‘I think a little bit of naivety and some poor defending cost us ultimately,’ McIntyre said. After the half, SU came out with energy and dominated the opening minutes. The increased pressure on the Saints defense led to a goal from freshman Brett Jankouskas in the 49th minute, after a cheeky back-heel pass by sophomore midfielder Mawuena Agbossoumonde. But the shaky SU defense would be exposed again. This time by speed. Siena striker Emery Welshman, the fastest player on the field, scored two goals and an assist, all in the second half. Welshman got in behind the Orange defense twice in the second half, resulting in two Saints goals. ‘He’s one of those guys that when we play the ball up to him and he turns, we can’t get there to support him because he’s so quick,’ Siena head coach Gareth Elliott said. ‘He definitely has some jets.’ SU’s team isn’t at full strength. Defender Konrad Andersson tore his meniscus and midfielder Nick Roydhouse, who was All-MAC second team in 2009, was suspended. ‘There were a couple of guys that we expected to play (for Syracuse) that didn’t play,’ Elliott said. ‘… It’s very difficult if coach McIntyre doesn’t know his strongest starting 11 right now because, then, we’re not going to know the strongest starting 11.’ In addition, the Orange is still toying with its formation. Tonight’s lineup came out in a flexible 4-3-3 alignment from defense to forward. But Hughes admitted the number of attackers and midfielders still isn’t set in stone. The Orange may use different lineups in hopes of finding a unit that clicks by the time Big East play gets underway on Sept. 25. Despite Wednesday, McIntyre has time. ‘We’ve got a lot of faces that we’re trying to work out,’ he said ‘… I think a little bit of naivety and some poor defending cost us ultimately.’ Mjcohe02@syr.educenter_img Commentslast_img read more

first_imgPhoto © Pixabay There are 5 Tipperary teams in FAI Junior Cup 5th round action today.In the early kick offs Clonmel Town face Ardee Utd, and St Michaels take on New Ross – both those games kick off at 11.30.Then at 2 o’clock, Nenagh Celtic play Iorras Aontaithe of Mayo away. Courttown Hibs travel to Clonmel Celtic, and Galbally United take on Glyn Rovers at home.Meanwhile, in the NTDL Premier divisionPortumna play Killavilla, BT Harps face Borroway and Ballymackey go up against Cloughjordan.All those games kick off at 11.30last_img read more

first_img Industry strategic consultancy Regulus Partners starts the week by looking at the arduous efforts to reopen casinos in England and the re-regulation of Ukraine’s gambling market.UK: reopening – England’s casinos expect….England’s casino operators will be hoping that the third time really is a charm as the Government finally confirmed that casinos (along with bowling alleys and theatres) would be allowed to reopen from Saturday.Lockdown has been particularly frustrating for casinos – the Government has executed more u-turns than Mr Magoo navigating Spaghetti Junction in the fog. Operators had been expecting to reopen on 4th July, along with bingo clubs, amusement arcades, pubs and restaurants (betting shops had started up again in mid-June); but were advised to stand down a fortnight in advance. Then came the heart-break of the 31st July announcement as the Prime Minister whipped the rug away again – this time with barely 12 hours’ notice.The decision to allow casinos to open their doors for the first time in five months is unlikely to be universally popular; but those who contend that school reopening should come first clearly made very little use of their own schooling. There are only around 100 casino venues in England – many of which will not reopen immediately.They will be required to operate at reduced capacities and subject to much higher levels of public health controls than in other venues. In considering how to reduce risk of infection at a population level and how the nation’s education system may be restarted (in the teeth of union opposition), whether or not casinos are open is frankly irrelevant. At the same time, it is existential for companies that have been burning their way through cash reserves while unable to trade.Having finally (fingers crossed) been given permission to get going, operators now face the challenge of how they can do so sustainably in the most hostile of conditions.Ukraine: domestically regulated gambling – the lesser evil?Gambling stakeholders should not need lessons in chicken counting, but Ukraine provided another one this week. While President Zelensky (broadly pro regulated gambling, pro-choice) signed the omnibus bill into law as expected (though providing some 11th hour jitters), he also demanded some ‘last minute’ changes (as is the prerequisite of a strong executive).For example, Zelenski has demanded the tightening of casino locations to 5* hotels (currently 35 in Ukraine) rather than also 4* (currently c. 200: a major potential additional expansion and a much easier new-build entry point); more oversight of UBOs and the licensing process was also demanded (echoing the concerns of other government agencies, addressed in the Act on a more geopolitical level by an insistence that owners and/or management are not Russian dominated). Tax rates remain uncertain but broadly range-bound with an upper rate of 25% which looks unlikely to apply to betting (possibly as low as 5% GGR), online and slot machines (possibly as low as 12.5%); VAT in Ukraine is 20%, so the tax rates set are much more about channelling and investment than ‘sin taxes’ or even consumer tax benchmarking – although licence fees are relatively high, especially for the long-tail (up to €0.25k pa per online licence; €0.8m pa per Kyiv casino)Tellingly, the explicit reason why the president was keen to get on with domestic regulation of betting, casino and online was to convert a rife black market (including organised crime) into a transparent, regulated and tax paying sector. Politicians and other stakeholders from more developed jurisdictions who think heavy restrictions are anything but moral posturing and a gift to organised crime should probably look at the brief history of Ukraine’s gambling ban 2009-2020 for a better understanding of the underlying issues such an approach causes (Wikipedia’s entry outlining the activities of the Ukrainian mafia is instructive: racketeering, extortion, murder, human trafficking, money laundering, bootlegging, arms trafficking, gambling, bribery, fencing, prostitution, theft, skimming, pornography and fraud – the sort of ‘parallel businesses’ effective policy making keeps gambling well away from).International: horseracing – out of ServisThe Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia has paid out prize money owed to the horses placed 2nd to 10th in the race held for the first time in February. However, the connections of winner, Maximum Security (purchased privately by Coolmore prior to this race), will not be paid out his US$10m until the authorities have concluded investigations into the use of potentially performance enhancing supplements. The horse’s then trainer, Jason Servis, is subject to a federal indictment for his part in the use of these unlicensed substances. It is still unclear whether the winning horse could yet be disqualified, as the horse has never failed a drugs test.The entire event has cast a shadow on the Saudi Cup as an event, which was supposed to enter the horseracing scene as a great international showcase able to attract the best horses and connections with the promise of enormous prizemoney and excellent hosting. It has left the JCSA in a difficult situation, where while it is not a part of the FBI investigation, it has a moral duty to ensure integrity for law enforcement and participants, although it also arguable has a contractual obligation to connections of the winning horse, of which there is no evidence (yet) of rule breaking. The real losers are the connections of Maximum Security, who have not only lost out on valuable prizemoney, but also, and probably more importantly, the debacle is likely to have devalued the horse from a breeding point of view (a horse that only won a lot of races due to being ‘drugged’).There are quite a few threads here; the issue of what constitutes a performance enhancing drug (the supplement used is naturally occurring and undetectable, as are many other ‘legal’ treatments – although it is unknown whether there is any benefit), and how racing regulators (and other sports governing bodies) should cooperate with investigations involving law enforcement. One, thing it does highlight though is the need for International racing regulators to work together, share information and align rules where this is possible. This is vital for the integrity of the sport, the preservation of the sport and the maintenance of the thoroughbred.Ireland: horseracing – show no fear getting involvedThe biggest priced winner in the UK and Ireland, He Knows No Fear, enjoyed success at odds of 300-1 in the mile maiden at Leopardstown yesterday, beating the evens favourite by a head. The horse was so unfancied on only his second start following a poor showing on debut, as well as favourite Agitare, from a more fashionable stable (Jim Bolger, rather than a billionaire businessman hobbyist Luke Comer).It’s a heartwarming story, and serves as a reminder that sometimes horses (and indeed people) can be written off too quickly in the racing industry. While it may have to be a ‘numbers game’ for large operations to pay the bills, the hobbyists and smaller trainers have more time to persist with these ‘difficult characters’ and very often a different approach can be the key to success. Maiden races can throw up surprises, with a focus on fashionable stables or breeding dictating the market, and perhaps also the way the races are run. There is room for the ‘little man’ in racing, they just need to be brave enough to pick up the challenge._______________ StumbleUpon Share Winning Post: UK gambling feels the ‘Noyes’ with SMF report August 10, 2020 Submit Winning Post: Swedish regulator pushes back on ‘Storebror’ approach to deposit limits August 24, 2020 Related Articles Cross-party think-tank calls for £100 monthly limit on gambling August 5, 2020 Sharelast_img read more