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Africa's Biggest Investment Takes Shape Under Islamist Threat – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Dozens of soldiers clutching AK-47s and grenade launchers watch over roaring bulldozers on the white sand beach that meets a tropical turquoise sea. They’re guarding Africa’s biggest investment: a $23 billion project to export Mozambique’s natural gas from an area increasingly besieged by an Islamist insurgency.

Companies led by Total SA will pump the gas from wells about 40 kilometers (25 miles) offshore, cool it to temperatures below minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit so that it turns to liquid, then ship it to electricity plants from France to China. The consortium is about to finalize almost $16 billion in project financing — another record for the continent.

“The work is immense,” said Ronan Bescond, the 44-year-old French chemical engineer who Total chose to lead the project after a career of nearly two decades at the company. “The first cargo of LNG must be in 2024. And we are on the right track,” he said to a handful of reporters in a prefabricated room at the site 32 kilometers south of the Rovuma River that marks the border with Tanzania.

The obstacles facing a project that’s expected to transform the impoverished southeast African nation are huge.

To achieve the target of first production for an undertaking worth billions of dollars more than Mozambique’s entire economy, developers need to move thousands of tons of equipment through territory thick with Islamic State-aligned insurgents. At one stage, a Covid-19 outbreak saw the Total site accounting for three in four of the country’s confirmed infections. All this as natural-gas prices plunged to near 25-year lows.

Militants who first pledged allegiance to IS in 2018 have carried out increasingly brazen attacks this year.

Deadly Raid

Last week, they raided Mocimboa da Praia for a third time, and occupied the town for as long as three days. It’s a crucial supply hub just 60 kilometers south of the project site and the closest port.

As many as nine workers for Total subcontractors Fenix Construction Services Lda died in the attack, Jasmine Opperman, an African analyst at Wisconsin-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, said in a Twitter post. The company didn’t answer seven calls and two emails seeking comment.

Before the gas discoveries and insurgency, the remote coastline was more famous for luxury tropical island resorts. Last month, one of the nearby hotels offered a discount price of $19,820 a night to hire out an island as a refuge from the coronavirus.

The private military company that Mozambique hired in April to provide air support to government troops in the form of helicopters fitted with machine guns has struggled to quell the violence. Lionel Dyck, the founder of Dyck Advisory Group, the firm the government employed, declined to comment when contacted by mobile phone.

IS Warning

Governments including South Africa, the U.S. and Portugal have indicated willingness to help fight the insurgency.

“The insurgency is a challenge but we’re happy that our defense and security forces have been playing their role,” Max Tonela, Mozambique’s energy and natural resources minister, told reporters during the June 19 site visit. “We all as Mozambicans must fight against this evil that comes from external attacks.”

About 1,300 people have died in the violence, with a further 220,000 displaced since the first attack three years ago, which also took place at Mocimboa da Praia.

For the second time, IS referred directly to the projects in a weekly newsletter this month. The group said that it would be “delusional” to think that the government could protect the investments, and warned other countries against getting involved.

The marginalization of young men in a region that’s predominantly Muslim and 1,900 kilometers away from the capital, Maputo, has helped lead to radicalization that’s fueled the insurgency, according to researchers including Saide Habibe at the Maputo-based Institute of Social and Economic Studies who have studied the origins of the fighters.

Total’s project will hire 14,000 people at peak construction, of which at least 5,000 will be Mozambican and many from the region, Bescond said at the briefing, wearing a surgical mask, as all visitors to the site must do to prevent another outbreak of the coronavirus.

The financial rewards are worth the cost to the government of the soldiers patrolling the vast compound and snipers on its perimeter fence — Total’s estimate is $50 billion in direct and indirect revenue over 25 years for the $15 billion economy.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Ridgewood Canadian Investment Grade Bond Fund Announces Private Placement – Canada NewsWire

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/NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO U.S. NEWSWIRE SERVICES OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA./

TORONTO, Aug. 10, 2020 /CNW/ – (TSX: RIB.UN) Ridgewood Capital Asset Management Inc. is pleased to announce that Ridgewood Canadian Investment Grade Bond Fund (the “Fund”) is undertaking a private placement of 510,790 units of the Fund (the “Units”) at a price of $16.00 per Unit, for gross proceeds of approximately $8.2 million (the “Offering”). The offering price of the Units is not dilutive to existing unitholders of the Fund. Closing of the Offering is expected to take place on or about August 13, 2020.

The net proceeds of the Offering will be used in furtherance of the Fund’s investment objectives, strategies and guidelines. The Units sold pursuant to the Offering will be subject to resale restrictions under applicable securities laws. The Offering is subject to the approval of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

About Ridgewood Capital Asset Management Inc.

Ridgewood Capital Asset Management Inc. is an independent investment manager that manages approximately $1.25 billion in assets for a diversified client base of high net worth individuals, foundations/endowments, First Nation mandates and institutional accounts, of which approximately $975 million is invested in fixed income assets.

Certain statements in this press release may be viewed as forward-looking statements. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to expectations, beliefs, plans, intentions, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events are not statements of historical fact and may be forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements, including as a result of changes in the general economic or political environment, investor interest, change in applicable legislation and the performance of the Fund. Accordingly, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements due to the inherent uncertainty therein. Except as required by applicable securities laws, forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made and neither Ridgewood Capital Asset Management Inc. nor the Fund undertakes any obligation to update publicly or otherwise revise any forward-looking statement whether as a result of new information, future events or other such factors which affect this information. Investment funds are not covered by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation or by any other government deposit insurer. There is no assurance that the Fund will be able to achieve its distribution and capital preservation objectives or that the full amount of a unitholders investment in the Fund will be returned.

SOURCE Ridgewood Canadian Investment Grade Bond Fund

For further information: For further information regarding the Fund, please visit the Ridgewood Capital Asset Management Inc. website at www.ridgewoodcapital.ca or contact John H. Simpson, CFA, Managing Director, at 416-479-2751.

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MGM Resorts shares rise after $1-billion investment from Barry Diller’s IAC – The Globe and Mail

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Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActive Corp said on Monday it has bought a 12 per cent stake in MGM Resorts International for about $1 billion (£764 million), sending the casino operator’s shares soaring 14 per cent.

The investment comes at a time when the gambling industry has been ravaged by government restrictions on movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as fears about public gatherings.

MGM reported a 91 per cent fall in revenue in the latest reported quarter and has slashed its dividend to weather the impact of the health crisis on its financials. Shares of the company have sunk more than 35 per cent this year.

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MGM’s online gaming business, which currently constitutes a tiny portion of its revenue, was what initially attracted Diller, the billionaire told shareholders in a letter.

“MGM presented a “once in a decade” opportunity for IAC to own a meaningful piece of a preeminent brand in a large category with great potential to move online.”

Diller added he has followed the online gaming space for a while, looking for an opportunity to enter the $450 billion global industry.

IAC has a history of building businesses and later splitting them into separate companies – travel site Expedia Group Inc and ticket booking site Ticketmaster are some examples.

Shares of IAC, which recently completed separation of Match Group into a separate company, fell about 1 per cent after the news.

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Canada and Ontario invest in sustainable public transit and active transportation infrastructure for Kingston residents – Government of Ontario News

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“Investing in modern and accessible public transportation systems allows Canadians to get around in faster, cheaper and cleaner ways. The investment in an expanded network of cycling lanes, multi-use paths, and new buses will improve the quality of lives for residents, get cars off the road and help make Kingston’s transit system more sustainable. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country and builds stronger communities.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

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