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UPDATE 3-Third Avenue parts with CEO soon after collapse of junk bond fund -WSJ

The collapse of Third Avenue’s Focused Credit Fund jolted Wall Street and renewed worries about the difficulty of trading securities on the U.S. bond marketplace. New York-primarily based Third Avenue is a relatively modest investment manager with fund assets that totaled $ ten billion at the beginning of the year.

A security guard at Third Avenue’s headquarters said on Sunday that Barse had been let go and was not allowed back in the creating, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A Third Avenue representative declined to comment. Barse did not respond to calls. His function e mail bounced back with the message “undeliverable”.

Third Avenue’s Focused Credit Fund was overwhelmed with heavy losses and surging investor net withdrawals, forcing Barse to abruptly liquidate the fund and block redemptions.

The redemptions and losses more than the previous year cut the size of the Third Avenue Focused Credit Fund to $ 789 million from almost $ three billion. Run by Tom Lapointe, the fund bet on distressed situations, such as the bankruptcy-related claims of Lehman Brothers. In a letter to investors last year, Lapointe, who could not immediately be reached for comment, stated distressed assets in his portfolio had been not necessarily illiquid or hard to trade.

The fund’s collapse is a blow to the reputation of Third Avenue Founder Marty Whitman, regarded the dean of American vulture investing. He hired Barse in 1991 to oversee the firm’s operations so he could spend much more time pursuing his own investment techniques.

Whitman could not be reached for comment.

The blow-up of the Focused Credit Fund was the most significant mutual fund failure considering that the economic crisis. The fund’s collapse shows the dangers of loading up on risky assets that are tough to trade even in excellent instances.

Just before Barse, 53, joined Third Avenue, he worked as a bankruptcy attorney defending the rights of creditors. He had been CEO of Third Avenue because 2003.

Whitman was a leader in a strategy that includes bets on the outcomes of businesses going via bankruptcy and other distressed conditions. The 91-year-old’s book titled “Distress Investing” distills decades of understanding about the ins and outs of bankruptcy restructuring.

In 2002, Affiliated Managers Group Inc purchased a majority equity stake in Third Avenue, with the remaining portion held by a broad group of workers that incorporated Whitman and Barse. Third Avenue, nonetheless, continued to operate autonomously from AMG, which holds stakes in a quantity of boutique asset management firms. AMG could not quickly be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Sam Forgione, Tim McLaughlin and Ross Kerber editing by Grant McCool)

Thousands rally to support Polish government right after opposition protest

WARSAW Tens of thousands of folks marched through Warsaw on Sunday to express assistance for the ruling conservatives, as Poland remained locked in a constitutional crisis over the appointment of judges who could assist the government pass its legislative plan.

The march took location a day right after a massive anti-government protest, highlighting the depth of divisions, which have become a lot more prominent given that the eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) won an outright majority in October’s election.

PiS say the center-correct Civic Platform (PO) party, which ruled Poland in between 2007 and 2015, are refusing the accept the result and attempting to stop it from executing its mandate.

The conflict among the two parties has defined Poland’s political stage for nearly a decade, but the temperature rose soon after the new government appointed 5 out of 15 judges to the constitutional court, a move the opposition says was illegal.

PiS says the judges necessary to be replaced to make sure the balance of power, and that it was the previous government that broke the law when they created the original appointments.

Gaining handle of the court is vital for the celebration. It could establish whether or not PiS is in a position to implement its flagship policy plans, such as overhauling the retirement program.

Waving Polish flags and PiS celebration banners, the demonstrators chanted the names of PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and PiS-backed President Andrzej Duda, who also took office this year.

“We won the election, but we have no proper to set laws and remodel Poland,” Kaczynski told the crowds ahead of they marched towards the constitutional court constructing.

“This court is supposed to be the stronghold … defending the system, defending all that has been undesirable and disgraceful in the last 26 years,” Kaczynski then mentioned outdoors the court, referring to the time since Poland’s transition from communism.

The lengthy-planned rally took location on the anniversary of the imposition of the 1981 martial law, the communist crackdown on the pro-democracy Solidarity trade union.

(Writing by Wiktor Szary Editing by Alison Williams)

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UPDATE five-South African rand hits record low, bank stocks dive after minister’s sacking

JOHANNESBURG South Africa’s rand weakened to a record low on Friday, slumping far more than 3 % in the wake of this week’s sacking of the finance minister, whilst banks led stocks reduce.

President Jacob Zuma sacked Nhlanhla Nene late on Wednesday in favor of a reasonably unknown lawmaker, David van Rooyen, unnerving investors in an ailing economy whose investment grade status is already at threat.

The sacking of Nene, a veteran civil servant in the ministry who was keen to rein in government spending in Africa’s most industrialized economy, has also sparked a sell-off in bank stocks, which have dropped practically 20 % because Thursday.

“Government will not abandon the fiscal path that we have selected in the last couple of years,” Zuma mentioned in a statement. “Keeping a prudent fiscal position remains 1 of government’s top priorities.”

Zuma said Nene was removed from his role as finance minister beneath brief notice so that he could be nominated as the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Improvement Bank/BRICS Bank, to be based in Johannesburg.

“It’s a lame purpose. They are fishing for an excuse. They are attempting to locate a position that is senior adequate for Nene to give a valid cause for why he was sacked,” Dawie Roodt, the chief economist at monetary services firm Effective Group mentioned. “I’ve got extremely small doubt that markets will be skeptical also.”

In a separate statement, Zuma denied nearby media reports that a wider cabinet reshuffle was in the offing, in what analysts saw as an attempt to calm jittery markets.

Several economists have questioned van Rooyen’s ability to steady an economy hammered by falling costs for commodity exports that variety from coal to gold.

“Markets never like uncertainty,” Cratos Capital equity analyst Greg Davies. “You have taken a minister that had a lot of credibility with the market place … and put somebody in his spot that does not appear to have any sort of encounter like the prior minister.”

By 1700 GMT the rand had recovered slightly, trading 1.98 % reduce to the dollar at 15.78150 ZAR=D3, from the psychologically vital 16.00 level it hit earlier in the day.

The central bank told Reuters it would hold its monetary policy committee meeting in January as scheduled. It raised the benchmark lending price for the second time in 2015 last month to six.25 percent.

Analysts had speculated that the bank might get in touch with an earlier meeting to boost interest prices to defend the rand.

Yields on local and dollar-denominated debt soared as the likelihood of a downgrade to junk spooked investors. Demand levels in local bond auctions have been weak on the day, reflecting the subdued interest in local debt.

On the bourse, the banking index .JBANK dropped more than 10 percent in early bargains prior to recouping some of the losses to close five.eight % decrease as worries grew that pressure on South Africa’s sovereign credit ratings would hit profits and drive up bad debts among the nation’s banks.

Barclays Africa (BGAJ.J) plummeted as considerably as 12 %, ending 3 % reduce at 127,84 rand, whilst FirstRand (FSRJ.J) lost eight.three percent to 35.57 rand and Normal Bank (SBKJ.J) fell four.2 % to 101.39 rand.

The blue-chip JSE Leading-40 index .JTOPI dropped 1.24 % to 43,701 points, whilst the broader All-share index was off 1.56 percent at 48,219 points.


“This nation would be far much better off without this man as our president, and I say that with a excellent deal of sadness,” former wellness minister and anti-apartheid activist Barbara Hogan told Talk Radio 702, referring to Zuma.

Credit ratings agency Fitch, which downgraded South Africa last Friday to just one particular notch above “junk” status, said Nene’s firing “raised far more unfavorable than constructive queries”.

Downgrades jack up South Africa’s borrowing fees and flow via to the banking method.

The yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 ZAR186= has added practically 200 basis points, or 2 %, in the last two days to levels last seen during the 2009 recession.

Overseas investors also shunned local dollar-denominated debt, with the typical yield premium to hold South African debt compared to U.S. Treasuries surging to six-1/two year highs.

(Writing by James Macharia and Tiisetso Motsoeneng Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Gulf states get in touch with for Yemen reconstruction meeting right after peace deal

RIYADH Gulf Arab states called on Thursday for an international reconstruction conference for Yemen following any peace deal to finish the country’s civil war.

The get in touch with came in a statement by Gulf Cooperation Council leaders at the conclusion of their summit meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh, which was study out by GCC Secretary-Common Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.

Yemeni warring parties are due to gather in Switzerland next week for U.N.-sponsored peace talks to finish a civil war that had killed nearly 6,000 people.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi Editing by Dominic Evans)

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Two charged with conspiracy to commit ‘terrorism’ in Australia soon after police raids

SYDNEY Australian police mentioned they had charged a 20-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy with conspiracy to conduct an act of terrorism soon after they had been arrested in the course of early-morning raids in Sydney on Thursday.

Police told a news conference the plots could have integrated attacks on government buildings, like the headquarters of the Australian Federal Police in Sydney, and attacks on random civilians.

Three other males, all of them already in custody on terrorism-related offences, will also be charged in connection with the raids.

The arrests on Thursday resulted partly from proof seized for the duration of police raids in December 2014, a police statement stated.

The guys arrested on Thursday were involved in “formulating documents connected with preparations to facilitate, help or engage a particular person to undertake a terrorist act”, it stated.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its battle against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, has been on heightened alert for attacks by residence-grown radicals given that final year.

“It is disturbing that we continue to deal with teenaged kids in this environment,” New South Wales state Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said.

“To be putting a 15-year-old before the courts on very severe charges that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment demonstrates the issues law enforcement face,” she stated.

In September 2014, police shot dead a Melbourne teenager after he stabbed two counter-terrorism officers. Final December, two hostages have been killed when police stormed a central Sydney cafe to finish a 17-hour siege by a lone gunman, who was also killed.

A 15-year-old boy shot and killed accountant Curtis Cheng at police headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta in October and was then killed in a gunfight with police outdoors the constructing.

(Reporting by Matt Siegel Editing by Paul Tait)

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Palestinian shot dead after wounding two Israelis in West Bank stabbing: army

JERUSALEM A Palestinian was shot dead by security forces after wounding an Israeli soldier and a civilian when he stabbed them in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron on Wednesday, the Israeli army said.

A statement from the military said the Palestinian attacked the victims during a “routine security check” in Hebron, a hotspot in the spate of attacks in the West Bank, Israel and Jerusalem in the past two months.

The violence has partly been driven by Palestinian anger over an increasing number of Jews visiting East Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound — Islam’s third holiest site, which is also revered by Jews.

They fear that Israel plans to end the status quo at the site, which is governed by an agreement under which non-Muslims may visit the sacred compound, but only Muslims can pray. Israel has repeatedly denied any such intentions.

Palestinians are also frustrated over a peacemaking process, deadlocked since early 2014, while Israel persists in adding to settlements in the dozens of enclaves it has built on land it seized in the 1967 Middle East war.

Since Oct. 1, Israeli forces have killed 106 Palestinians, 66 of whom Israel says were assailants or had been caught on camera carrying out assaults.

Most of the others were killed in clashes with police or troops. One U.S. citizen and 19 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks.

The two injured Israelis were taken to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment and a spokeswoman said one was lightly hurt and the other was in moderate condition.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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China seeks South Korean security guarantees after warning shots fired at ship

BEIJING China mentioned on Wednesday it had asked South Korea to make certain the safety of Chinese ships soon after South Korea’s navy fired warning shots at a Chinese vessel which crossed into waters disputed by North and South Korea.

The South Korean navy told Yonhap news agency it had fired 10 warning shots at a Chinese boat which it stated crossed the Northern Limit Line – a disputed inter-Korean maritime border on the west coast.

The ship was initially believed to be North Korean, but was later identified as Chinese, according to Yonhap.

“We are concerned about the relevant situation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

The Chinese embassy in South Korea has asked for a clarification of what happened, she mentioned, adding that it had not heard of any harm or injuries.

“We will continue to pay close interest to how the scenario develops and preserve in communication with South Korea, asking they make certain the safety of Chinese personnel and ships,” Hua stated, without giving other specifics.

The Northern Limit Ling is a disputed border exactly where a number of artillery and naval clashes have occurred in recent years.

Final year, a Chinese fisherman was killed in a South Korean coastguard operation to apprehend his vessel which was operating illegally off South Korea’s west coast.

South Korea’s coastguard regularly chases Chinese fishing boats out of its western seas and violence does occasionally take place.

A South Korean coastguard officer was stabbed to death by a Chinese fisherman in 2011 and the following year a Chinese fisherman died from injuries in a confrontation with the coastguard. That led to a Chinese government complaint.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard Editing by Nick Macfie)

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South African court begins hearing Pistorius’ bail application after murder conviction

PRETORIA South African Olympic and Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius appeared in court on Tuesday to apply for bail following his conviction for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, known as “Blade Runner” because of the carbon fiber prosthetic blades he used to race, faces a minimum 15-year jail sentence.

The Supreme Court final Thursday upgraded the 29-year-old athlete’s sentence to murder from “culpable homicide”, South Africa’s equivalent of manslaughter, for which he had received a five-year sentence.

Pistorius was released from jail on Oct. 19 and had been meant to serve the rest of that five-year sentence under home arrest at his uncle’s residence in a wealthy suburb of the capital Pretoria.

(Reporting by TJ Strydom Editing by James Macharia)

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UPDATE 3-Venezuelan dollar bonds rise after opposition beats Socialists

(Updates prices, adds investor quotes)

By Sujata Rao

LONDON Dec 7 Venezuelan dollar bonds rose strongly on Monday soon after the opposition beat the ruling Socialists in a parliamentary election at the weekend, raising hope of at least some financial reform in the crisis-ridden nation.

Bonds from the sovereign as nicely as state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) rose as significantly as 4.2 cents on the dollar, moves expected to extend further if the opposition fulfils its expectations of a two-thirds majority.

Opposition Democratic Unity leaders said on Monday they had reached the crucial bar of two-thirds of seats – but there was no confirmation of that from the national election board.

The opposition coalition has so far won 99 seats, against the Socialists’ tally of 46 seats, with some districts nevertheless to be counted. President Nicolas Maduro has called on his supporters to accept defeat.

Sovereign bonds retreated from the highs reached earlier on the day. Troubles maturing in 2022 had been final up 3.05 cents after reaching a 10-day high of 52.800 earlier in the day. The 2028 rose 2.six cents, while the 2038 troubles firmed up two.six cents. The 2027 issue, considered the benchmark for Venezuela, had been final up 2.59 cents , according to Thomson Reuters data.

PDVSA’s 2024 concern rose as significantly as 1.9 cents , while the 2027 bond had been final up 1.9 cents .

“Bonds have been up four or 5 points at the open and financial adjustment to currency regime, cost controls, fuel subsidies could also be forthcoming,” said Anthony Simond, emerging market place debt study analyst at Aberdeen Asset Management. Aberdeen added to its Venezuelan bond holdings two weeks ago on the expectation the opposition would win the election.

The outcome makes Venezuela the most recent Latin American country to swing away from the left, soon after the opposition’s election win in Argentina and the diminishing recognition of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

Venezuelan bonds have outperformed in recent months on hopes the opposition would trounce Maduro’s increasingly unpopular government. But they trade around 35 to 43 cents in the dollar, levels that price tag in a sturdy probability of default as the OPEC state’s economy has bucked under the oil value collapse.

Socialists have lost help soon after presiding more than a declining economy, the highest inflation in the Americas, chronic shortages of fundamental goods and sky-higher crime rates. The economy is expected to contract far more than 5 percent this year whilst inflation is more than 80 %.

The average premium of Venezuelan bonds over U.S. Treasuries contracted 18 basis points to 2,680 bps on the EMBI Worldwide index on Monday.

Although nevertheless the highest yielding emerging industry credit with much more than double the premium paid by Mozambique or Iraq, spreads have contracted much more than 600 basis points since August.

Investors expect more price gains if the opposition scores a two-third majority.

“The opposition weighing in Congress does not change oil rates, but it does give them energy to modify foreign exchange policies and allocation of resources that could enhance the economy and the country’s potential to spend its debt,” mentioned Jim Carlen, a Minneapolis-primarily based senior portfolio manager for the emerging markets fixed-revenue group at Columbia Threadneedle Investments.

But a lot of remain pessimistic provided the scale of the challenge, with Jan Dehn, head of research at emerging markets asset manager Ashmore, saying Venezuela would not be “a sudden turnaround story”. Crude rates around $ 42 per barrel are a severe dilemma, given oil tends to make up 95 % of exports.

“It is clear the opposition won, even without having the distinct number but, but we do not know the specifics of what will come about going forward,” said Yong Zhu, senior portfolio manager of the DuPont Capital Emerging Markets Debt Fund. The fund is keeping its overweight position in Venezuela.

“Can they move forward in a constructive way and take Venezuela away from the brink?” Dehn stated. (Further reporting by Claire Milhench and Tariro Mzezewa Editing by Janet Lawrence and Alistair Bell)

Right after Paris, Balkans considers regional fight against arms smuggling

SARAJEVO Western Balkan governments are searching at making a network of specialists to support tackle the illicit trade in weapons from the area, officials mentioned on Monday, amid issues after the Paris attacks about guns falling into the hands of militant Islamists.

Some of the assault rifles utilised by the perpetrators of the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, claimed by Islamic State and in which 130 people died, have been traced to the former Yugoslavia.

Former Yugoslavia, which collapsed in turmoil and war in the 1990s, has extended been a wealthy source of illicit weapons for criminal gangs in Europe. But now there are issues about such weapons also reaching Islamist militants determined to strike in western Europe.

Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic stated France had proposed that the states of the western Balkans – the nations of the former Yugoslavia and Albania – to join forces.

“These weapons have been increasingly utilised in terrorist attacks, and our colleagues from France have proposed that an specialist network be formed in the Western Balkans to crack down on smugglers,” Mektic told reporters right after a conference of safety officials from the region.

Mektic said the network would be open to member states of the European Union. In the Western Balkans only Croatia and Slovenia have so far joined the EU, though other states hope to.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic mentioned Serbia had cooperated with France in investigating the origin of the weapons utilised in the Paris attacks.

“The investigation requirements to show, regardless of where the weapons have been developed, how they got there, who have been the individuals who took part in that chain,” Stefanovic stated.

The security conference participants agreed in principle on establishing such a network but they did not go over formal details, said Mektic.

“This initiative is extremely critical, not only for security in western Europe but also due to the fact of security in our countries, exactly where we need to perform on a total de-escalation, to attempt to get hold of as a lot of illegal weapons as achievable,” Stefanovic mentioned.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic Editing by Editing by Matt Robinson and Gareth Jones)

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