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Former Commissioner of Competition John Pecman Joins Fasken

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Former Commissioner of Competition John Pecman Joins Fasken

Toronto (Canada) – Fasken announces that John Pecman, the former Commissioner of Competition, leading the Competition Bureau Canada (Bureau) from 2013 to 2018, will join Fasken’s Antitrust/Competition & Marketing group as a Senior Business Advisor in Ontario as of September 1, 2018.

John has worked in every enforcement branch at the Bureau, and has held increasingly senior positions since joining the organization in 1984. Under his leadership, the Bureau’s enforcement actions have preserved competition in a variety of major areas of the Canadian economy, including the automotive, manufacturing, e-commerce, telecommunications and retail sectors. John was also a leader in the international competition community as an executive and liaison for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Competition Committee and the International Competition Network.

“John’s long history at multiple levels of the Bureau’s administration, and his economics background, will allow us to provide clients with superior advice,” said Peter Feldberg, Firm Managing Partner. “He has been an investigator, ran cases, developed policy and knows the ins and outs of the Bureau – its key people, its thinking and its approach.”

“His deep and practical knowledge of the Bureau will be a major asset for our clients on competition matters”, said Huy Do, Co-Leader of the Firm’s Antitrust/Competition & Marketing group. “He not only knows the people and history of the office, but how they approach issues and their rationale for making decisions.”

Fasken’s Antitrust/Competition and Marketing group members assist and guide clients through merger clearance and foreign investment reviews for Canadian and international M&A transactions and across all aspects of antitrust/competition and marketing law.

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SpaceX Starship rocket prototype nails landing… then blows up

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SpaceX Starship rocket prototype nails landing... then blows up 1

(Reuters) – The third time appeared to be the charm for Elon Musk’s Starship rocket – until it wasn’t.

The latest heavy-duty launch vehicle prototype from SpaceX soared flawlessly into the sky in a high-altitude test blast-off on Wednesday from Boca Chica, Texas, then flew itself back to Earth to achieve the first upright landing for a Starship model.

But the triumph was short-lived. Listing slightly to one side as an automated fire-suppression system trained a stream of water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket, the spacecraft blew itself to pieces about eight minutes after touchdown.

It was the third such landing attempt to end in a fireball after an otherwise successful test flight for the Starship, being developed by SpaceX to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.

For Musk, the billionaire SpaceX founder who also heads the electric carmaker Tesla Inc, the outcome was mixed news.

The Starship SN10 came far closer to achieving a safe, vertical touchdown than two previous models – SN8 in December and SN9 in February. In a tweet responding to tempered congratulations from an admirer of his work, Musk replied, “RIP SN10, honorable discharge.”

The video feed provided by SpaceX on the company’s YouTube channel cut off moments after the landing. But separate fan feeds streamed over the same social media platform showed an explosion suddenly erupting at the base of the rocket, hurling the SN10 into the air before it crashed to the ground and became engulfed in flames.

The complete Starship rocket, which will stand 394-feet (120 metres) tall when mated with its super-heavy first-stage booster, is SpaceX’s next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle – the center of Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel more affordable and routine.

A first orbital Starship flight is planned for year’s end. Musk has said he intends to fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the moon with the Starship in 2023.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Joe Shaw in Washington; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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Oil strengthens on prospect of OPEC+ maintaining supply cuts, drop in U.S. inventories

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Oil strengthens on prospect of OPEC+ maintaining supply cuts, drop in U.S. inventories 2

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose for a second straight session on Thursday, as the possibility that OPEC+ producers might decide against increasing output at a key meeting later in the day lent support, alongside a drop in U.S. fuel inventories.

Brent crude futures added 61 cents, or 1%, to $64.68 a barrel, as of 0428 GMT, after climbing more than 2% on Wednesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 28 cents, or 0.5% to $61.56 a barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together called OPEC+, are considering rolling over production cuts into April instead of raising output, as a recovery in oil demand remains fragile due to the coronavirus crisis, three OPEC+ sources told Reuters.

The market had been expecting OPEC+ to ease production cuts by around 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from April.

“OPEC+ is currently meeting to discuss its current supply agreement. This raised the spectre of a rollover in supply cuts, which also buoyed the market,” ANZ said in a report

U.S. crude oil stockpiles surged by a record of more than 21 million barrels last week as refining plunged to an all-time low due to the Texas freeze that knocked out power for millions.

With refiners unable to process crude, gasoline and distillate inventories also dropped dramatically, especially in the Gulf Coast region where their declines set records, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

“Prices hinge on Russia’s and Saudi Arabia’s preference to add more crude oil production,” said Stephen Innes, global market strategist at Axi.

“Perhaps more interesting is the lack of U.S. shale (production) response to the higher crude oil prices, which is favourable for higher prices.”

(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Christopher Cushing)

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Sunak gives British economy a boost to see out COVID crisis, tax rises ahead

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Sunak gives British economy a boost to see out COVID crisis, tax rises ahead 3

By David Milliken, William Schomberg and Andy Bruce

LONDON (Reuters) – Finance minister Rishi Sunak gave more aid to Britain’s economy and offered companies a big incentive to start investing again, but also announced a future tax squeeze on people and businesses as he began to focus on the COVID-19 hit to the public finances.

Sunak said in an annual budget speech on Wednesday that the economy will return to its pre-pandemic size in mid-2022, six months earlier than previously forecast, helped by Europe’s fastest coronavirus vaccination programme.

But it will be 3% smaller in five years’ time than it would have been without the health shock and extra support was needed as the country gradually lifts restrictions over the next few months, he said.

Sunak’s early warning that he will demand more money from companies and individual taxpayers in the coming years makes him one of the first policymakers from rich countries to address the state of public finances.

Britain’s first rise in corporation tax since 1974 will see big, profitable companies pay 25% from 2023 compared to 19% now.

But Sunak first offered firms an immediate two-year “super-deduction” tax break in a bid to snap them out of their pandemic deep-freeze and invest to boost short-term growth.

The government’s budget watchdog said the move was more than 10 times more generous than an equivalent incentive in 2009.

Sunak repeated his plan to do “whatever it takes to support the British people and businesses”.

“Second, once we are on the way to recovery, we will need to begin fixing the public finances – and I want to be honest today about our plans to do that,” he told parliament. “And, third, in today’s budget we begin the work of building our future economy.”

Among the support measures were a five-month extension of Britain’s huge jobs rescue plan, wider help for the self-employed and the continuation of an emergency increase in welfare payments.

A business rates exemption for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will now run until the end of June, by when Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to have lifted most COVID-19 restrictions.

An existing tax break for home-buyers was extended by three months until June 30 and then for cheaper homes until the end of September.

Shares in housebuilders gained on the news, with Persimmon one of the top risers in the FTSE 100, up about 5%.

Pub firms JD Wetherspoon and Premier Inn owner Whitbread also rose about 5%, helped by an extended VAT cut for the hospitality sector.

But British government bond prices fell sharply after Sunak said overall borrowing will be much bigger next financial year than thought just a few months ago – 234 billion pounds, or 10.3% of gross domestic product, compared with a previous estimate of 164 billion pounds, or 7.4% of GDP.

The Debt Management Office said it planned to sell 296 billion pounds of gilts in the coming year, well above the 247 billion pounds expected in a Reuters poll.

“The UK’s fiscal stance has become much looser, and more focused on investment, more in line with its U.S. and euro area counterparts,” Morgan Stanley economist Jacob Nell said.

“This shift changes our view of the UK. Near term, we see a stronger and more investment-focused recovery bringing forward the return to pre-COVID-19 levels of output.”

To show he will get a grip on borrowing, Sunak’s future hikes will increase the tax burden to its highest since the 1960s, rising from 34% to 35% of GDP by the mid-2020s.

“The UK is thus to become the first major economy to consider such measures,” Valentin Marinov, head of G10 foreign exchange research at Credit Agricole, said.

Britain has suffered the biggest COVID-19 death toll in Europe and its economy shrank by 10% last year, its worst slump in three centuries.

Many companies are also under strain from Brexit after Britain left the European Union’s single market on Jan. 1, and the government faces the challenge of huge investment to meet its promise to create a net zero carbon economy by 2050.

UK EARLY MOVER ON TAX HIKES

Britain’s Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) said the economy was likely to grow 4% in 2021, slower than the 5.5% it had forecast in November, due largely to the current lockdown which began in January.

But the OBR raised its forecast for growth in 2022 to 7.3% from 6.6%.

Sunak has already racked up Britain’s highest borrowing since World War Two, with the deficit reaching an estimated 17% of GDP in the 2020/21 financial year that ends in April and set to fall to a still historically high 10.3% in 2021/22.

Announcing the corporation tax rise, he said: “Even after this change the UK will still have the lowest corporation tax rate in the G7 – lower than the United States, Canada, Italy, Japan, Germany and France.”

Rain Newton Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said the hike was “a huge jump” and that other G7 countries would be more competitive than Britain when state and federal level tax breaks were taken into account.

Businesses with profits of 50,000 pounds or less would pay a new Small Profits Rate at the current rate of 19%.

Sunak also said he would freeze the amount of money that people can earn tax-free and the threshold for the higher rate of income tax at the 2021/22 level until April 2026.

($1 = 0.7156 pounds)

(Additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, William James, Costas Pitas, James Davey, Estelle Shirbon, Elizabeth Piper, Paul Sandle, Alastair Smout and Sarah Young; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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