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More China coal investments overseas cancelled than commissioned since 2017

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More China-invested overseas coal-fired power capacity was cancelled than commissioned since 2017, research showed on Wednesday, highlighting the obstacles facing the industry as countries work to reduce carbon emissions.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said that the amount of capacity shelved or cancelled since 2017 was 4.5 times higher than the amount that went into construction over the period.

Coal-fired power is one of the biggest sources of climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions, and the wave of cancellations also reflects rising concerns about the sector’s long-term economic competitiveness.

Since 2016, the top 10 banks involved in global coal financing were all Chinese, and around 12% of all coal plants operating outside of China can be linked to Chinese banks, utilities, equipment manufacturers and construction firms, CREA said.

But although 80 gigawatts of China-backed capacity is still in the pipeline, many of the projects could face further setbacks as public opposition rises and financing becomes more difficult, it added.

China is currently drawing up policies that it says will allow it to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by 2030 and to become carbon-neutral by 2060.

But it was responsible for more than half the world’s coal-fired power generation last year, and it will not start to cut coal consumption until 2026, President Xi Jinping said in April.

Environmental groups have called on China to stop financing coal-fired power entirely and to use the funds to invest in cleaner forms of energy, and there are already signs that it is cutting back on coal investments both at home and abroad.

Following rule changes implemented by the central bank earlier this year, “clean coal” is no longer eligible for green financing.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank by assets and a major source of global coal financing, is also drawing up a “road map” to pull out of the sector, its chief economist Zhou Yueqiu said at the end of May.

 

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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Canada sets plan to merge investment regulators into one agency – BNN

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Canada’s securities regulators plan to merge two industry groups that oversee financial advisers into a single organization, a move intended to address years of complaints about the overlapping roles and higher costs of the groups.

Provincial regulators published Tuesday a framework for how to combine the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, which regulates investment advisory firms that sell a broad range of securities, with the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada, which oversees firms that sell funds.

They also plan to merge two existing investor protection funds into a new one that’s independent of the expanded regulatory body.

Among other things, IIROC and MFDA levy fines and other penalties on individual financial advisers who break the rules.

IIROC oversees about 175 firms, including full-service investment dealers including BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. and RBC Dominion Securities Inc., while the MFDA supervises about 90 mutual fund dealers, such as CIBC Securities Inc. and National Bank Investments Inc. Some financial firms are forced to be members of both agencies because their employees hold different licenses for selling investment products.

Combining the staffs of the two bodies “will be critical during the creation of the new self-regulatory organization and investor protection fund, and will be crucial to their future success,” Louis Morisset, the chair and president of Canadian Securities Administrators, said in a statement. The CSA is an umbrella group of Canada’s provincial securities watchdogs.

In late 2019, the CSA began studying the existing framework. It created a working committee to determine the structure of the new organization and oversee the integration of the two groups. The review prompted both the MFDA and IIROC to publish their own proposals.

The combination is aimed at saving costs for investment dealers while aligning and streamlining their processes, the CSA said. A majority of the new organization’s board members and its chairperson will be independent, and the group will be required to solicit CSA comment on its priorities, business plan and budget, according to a statement.

The CSA will also consider the possibility of incorporating additional registration categories into the newly minted entity.

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UPDATED FACT SHEET: Bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act – Whitehouse.gov

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On July 28, the President and the bipartisan group announced agreement on the details of a once-in-a-generation investment in our infrastructure, which was immediately taken up in the Senate for consideration. The legislation includes around $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s roads and bridges, water infrastructure, resilience, internet, and more. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will grow the economy, enhance our competitiveness, create good jobs, and make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.

The legislation will create good-paying, union jobs. With the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, these investments will add, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade, while accelerating America’s path to full employment and increasing labor force participation.

President Biden believes that we must invest in our country and in our people by creating good-paying union jobs, tackling the climate crisis, and growing the economy sustainably and equitably for decades to come. The bipartisan legislation will deliver progress towards those objectives for working families across the country. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

  • Makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever
  • Makes the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
  • Makes the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system
  • Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in American history, delivering clean water to millions of families
  • Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet
  • Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; electrifying thousands of school and transit buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Deployment Authority to build a resilient, clean, 21st century electric grid

The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results for working families. He believes demonstrating that democracies can deliver is a critical challenge for his presidency. Today’s agreement shows that we can come together to position American workers, farmers, and businesses to compete and win in the 21st century.

Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects

One in five miles, or 173,000 total miles, of our highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. Bridges in poor condition pose heightened challenges in rural communities, which often may rely on a single bridge for the passage of emergency service vehicles. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects, and reauthorize the surface transportation program for the next five years building on bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bills passed out of committee earlier this year. This investment will repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. The bill includes a total of $40 billion of new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. The bill also includes around $16 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs but will deliver significant economic benefits to communities.

Safety

America has one of the highest road fatality rates in the industrialized world. The legislation invests $11 billion in transportation safety programs, including a new, $5 billion Safe Streets for All program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities in their communities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. It includes a new program to provide grants to community owned utilities to replace leaky and obsolete cast iron and bare steel natural gas pipelines, some of which are over 100 years old. It will more than double funding directed to programs that improve the safety of people and vehicles in our transportation system, including highway safety, truck safety, and pipeline and hazardous materials safety.

Public Transit

America’s transit infrastructure is inadequate – with a multibillion-dollar repair backlog, representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems in need of replacement. The legislation includes $39 billion of new investment to modernize transit, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities. That is in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization. In total, the new investments and reauthorization provide $89.9 billion in guaranteed funding for public transit over the next five years. This is the largest Federal investment in public transit in history, and devotes a larger share of funds from surface transportation reauthorization to transit in the history of the programs. It will repair and upgrade aging infrastructure, modernize bus and rail fleets, make stations accessible to all users through a new program with $1.75 billion in dedicated funding, and bring transit service to new communities with an additional $8 billion for Capital Investment Grants. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles through an additional $5.75 billion, of which 5 percent is dedicated to training the transit workforce to maintain and operate these vehicles. And, it will benefit communities of color since these households are twice as likely to take public transportation and many of these communities lack sufficient public transit options.

Passenger and Freight Rail

Unlike highways and transit, rail lacks a multi-year funding stream to address deferred maintenance, enhance existing corridors, and build new lines in high-potential locations. The legislation positions Amtrak and rail to play a central role in our transportation and economic future. This is the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago. The legislation invests $66 billion in rail to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor, and bring world-class rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Within these totals, $22 billion would be provided as grants to Amtrak, $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion for partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high-speed rail, $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants, and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements.

EV Infrastructure

U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The President believes that must change. The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States and is a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. The bill will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. Federal funding will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.

Electric Buses

American school buses play a critical role in expanding access to education, but they are also a significant source of pollution. The legislation will deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The legislation also invests $5 billion in zero emission and clean buses and $2.5 billion for ferries. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities. In addition, they will help the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities.

Reconnecting Communities

Too often, past transportation investments divided communities – like the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans or I-81 in Syracuse – or it left out the people most in need of affordable transportation options. In particular, significant portions of the interstate highway system were built through Black neighborhoods. The legislation creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure. The program will fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure through $1 billion of dedicated funding in addition to historic levels of major projects funding, for which these investments could also qualify.

Airports, Ports, and Waterways

The United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors. According to some rankings, no U.S. airports rank in the top 25 of airports worldwide. Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination too. The bill invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies. Modern, resilient, and sustainable port, airport, and freight infrastructure will support U.S. competitiveness by removing bottlenecks and expediting commerce and reduce the environmental impact on neighboring communities.

Resilience and Western Water Infrastructure

Millions of Americans feel the effects of climate change each year when their roads wash out, airport power goes down, or schools get flooded. Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. The legislation makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks, with an investment of over $50 billion. This includes funds to protect against droughts, floods and wildfires, in addition to a major investment in weatherization. The bill is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.

Clean Drinking Water

Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water. The legislation’s $55 billion investment represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl). It will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. From rural towns to struggling cities, the legislation invests in water infrastructure across America, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.

High-Speed Internet

Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural communities throughout the country. The legislation’s $65 billion investment – which builds on the billions of dollars provided for broadband deployment in the American Rescue Plan – will help ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago.

The bill will also help lower prices for internet service by requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by requiring providers to display a “Broadband Nutrition Label” that will help families comparison shop for a better legislation, and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service. It will also help close the digital divide by passing the Digital Equity Act (which creates new grant programs for digital inclusion), by requiring the Federal Communications Commission to adopt rules banning digital redlining, and by creating a new, permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet. Over one in four households will be eligible for this new Affordable Connectivity Benefit.

Environmental Remediation

In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The legislation invests $21 billion in environmental remediation, making the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history, creating good-paying union jobs in hard-hit energy communities and advancing economic and environmental justice. The bill includes funds to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells.

Power Infrastructure

As the recent Texas power outages demonstrated, our aging electric grid needs urgent modernization. A Department of Energy study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The legislation’s roughly $65 billion investment includes the single largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history. It upgrades our power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. It invests in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.

Offsets

In the years ahead, the legislation will generate significant economic benefits. It is financed through a combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures, in addition to the revenue generated from higher economic growth as a result of the investments.

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Church’s Chicken Acquired By Investment Firm High Bluff Capital Partners – Forbes

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High Bluff Capital Partners is adding Church’s Chicken to its growing roster of restaurant brands under its REGO Restaurant Group platform, established in 2018.

The company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Church’s from FFL partners for an undisclosed amount.  FS Investments led a structured capital investment in support of the acquisition out of its FS Tactical Opportunities Fund along with other affiliated investment funds. The transaction is expected to be completed in Q3.

Atlanta-based Church’s Chicken has more than 1,500 locations in 25 countries and territories. The nearly 70-year-old brand generated systemwide sales of about $1.2 billion in 2020, including its most profitable performance in “many years,” by leveraging a strong demand for chicken and bundled meals, as well as drive-thru and off-premise channels.

This momentum is what attracted High Bluff founder Anand Gowda to the brand.

“At a time when the entire restaurant industry has faced unprecedented challenges, Church’s has stood out as a notable bright spot, having emerged from the pandemic with considerable tailwinds that strongly position the brand for tremendous growth geographically as well as in the overall chicken category,” he said.

Despite those tailwinds, however, Gowda acknowledges that Church’s needs a bit more agility to better compete in an intensifying space.

“My perspective is that situations that appear to be challenged on the outside–like having a dated brand–have tremendous loyalty from the customer base and if you can invest some capital in the physical assets and technology, that’s interesting,” he said. “Church’s has performed very well through Covid, but there is still so much untapped value here. It’ll take some simple blocking and tackling to energize the customer base and that’s what we intend to do.”

Those blocking and tackling efforts include bringing innovative menu offerings to market more quickly, elevating the tech platform, improving the point-of-sale system and getting a loyalty program in place as soon as possible.

Essentially, Gowda wants to bring a faster mindset to the system, which has been under the same ownership since 2009.

“They took a long time to make decisions like implementing price changes. They were late to the chicken sandwich wars. It shouldn’t take two years to develop a loyalty program,” he said. “You have to be quick in this industry–especially now. We have a small group of owners and that gives us the ability to make decisions quickly. Our ownership is narrow and I think that will be a strategic advantage with the brand.”

Taking over a legacy brand at a sprint’s pace has its risks, however. Namely, it could turn off loyal franchisees who have been with the system for a long time. Gowda isn’t worried about this so much, however.

“We all have the same goals. If we’re not working to increase their margin, we shouldn’t be in the market. Our objective is to bring more sales to franchisees in a more agile way and give them more opportunities at growth and more flexibility with technology. They’re in acute alignment with that objective,” he said.

If that alignment is sustained, Gowda expects big things for the Church’s brand. He wants to grow its footprint, including in nontraditional ways such as ghost kitchens–a plan he’s deploying with REGO’s other brands.

Further, consumers have proven their appetite for chicken is boundless and he believes there is plenty of room for Church’s Texas-style chicken alongside the Kentucky-style chicken of KFC and the Louisiana-style chicken of Popeyes (both of which are on a significant upswing, by the way). He also likes the momentum Church’s has with its international business, its strongest driver of growth throughout the past two years.

“We have this wonderful international business and we can take all the flavors that we put into those businesses and import them here that are in high demand. International is one of our strongest assets and it will help us bring forward great products that will generate great sales. Our operators are thirsty for this type of innovation,” Gowda said. “We recognize we’ll fail sometimes but we’ll win big sometimes. In two or three years, we’ll be leading this category versus following in this category.”

With the acquisition of the chicken chain, REGO Restaurant Group diversifies its portfolio that already includes sub chain Quiznos and Mexican concept Taco Del Mar. Gowda would like to get to at least 10 brands and double its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) to north of $100 million in the next few years. REGO plans to continue taking advantage of the mergers & acquisitions market while it remains hot.

“It took us a little while to get the snowball going, but now we have a scalable platform with Church’s. That was our goal–scale to get to scale. Now we focus on buying bigger assets, financing them in a cost efficient way and accelerate opportunities that are either undermanaged, poorly capitalized or growing well but in the mid-to-early stages of growth that we can accelerate,” Gowda said. “We’re just getting started.”

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