The Daily Visionary: Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Photo Credit: Pro L'argus

Photo Credit: Pro L'argus

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn arrested on suspicion of financial misconduct


President and Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn of automaker Nissan has been accused of "significant acts of misconduct" including underreporting his salary and said it would move to fire him. Ghosn has reportedly been arrested in Tokyo, Japan. Nissan released a statement stating it had been conducting a probe into Ghosn for several months after receiving a whistleblower report and had uncovered misconduct going back several years.  "The investigation showed that over many years both Ghosn and [Representative Director Greg] Kelly have been reporting compensation amounts in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report that were less than the actual amount, in order to reduce the disclosed amount of Carlos Ghosn's compensation," Nissan’s statement said.


The statement continued to say "Also, in regards to Ghosn, numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets, and Kelly's deep involvement has also been confirmed." Nissan said it had provided information to Japanese prosecutors and would propose to the board of directors that it "promptly remove Ghosn from his positions" along with Kelly.


Carlos Ghosn is a Brazilian-Lebanese businessman with a net worth of USD $50 million as current Chairman and CEO of Yokohama and Nissan in Japan and Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance in France.

In the late 1990s, Ghosn orchestrated one of the decade's most aggressive downsizing campaigns and spearheading the turnaround of Nissan from near bankruptcy, earning the nicknames "le cost killer" and "Mr. Fix It." After the Nissan financial turnaround, he achieved celebrity status and ranks as one of the 50 most famous men in global business and politics. He has been recruited to run at least two other automakers, General Motors and Ford Motor Co. His daughter Caroline Ghosn is the founder and CEO of Levo League, a professional network dedicated to helping Millennial women navigate the workplace by building connections to elevate their careers.


Saudi royals turn against Prince bin Salman after Khashoggi murder


Three sources close to the royal court said dozens of princes and cousins from powerful branches of the Al Saud family want to see a change in the line of succession to prevent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from becoming king following international uproar over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post critical of Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman, who was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancée.


The House of Saud is made up of hundreds of princes. Unlike typical European monarchies, there is no automatic succession from father to eldest son. Instead the kingdom’s tribal traditions dictate that the king and senior family members from each branch select the heir they consider fittest to lead. The family members will not act against the crown prince while his 82-year-old father is still alive, recognizing the king is unlikely to turn against his favorite son, known in the West as MbS.

They are discussing the possibility with other family members that after the king’s death, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, 76, a younger full brother of King Salman and uncle of the crown prince, could take the throne, according to the royal court sources. Prince Ahmed, King Salman’s only surviving full brother, would have the support of family members, the security apparatus and some Western powers, one of the Saudi sources said. Prince Ahmed returned to Riyadh in October after two and a half months abroad. During the trip, he seemingly criticized Saudi leadership while responding to protesters outside a London residence chanting for the downfall of the Al Saud dynasty. He was one of only three people on the Allegiance Council, made up of the ruling family’s senior members, who opposed MbS becoming crown prince in 2017, two Saudi sources said at the time.


Germany announced it will bar eighteen Saudis from entering the country and Europe's Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to Khashoggi’s murder, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, and that the move was "coordinated very closely with" France, the United Kingdom, and the broader European Union (EU) as they seek more information in Khashoggi's death last month in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.


South Korean shipbuilder orders ensure dominance in the LNG tanker market


Three South Korean shipyards, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and Samsung Heavy Industries have won all of the more than fifty orders placed for new large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers for delivery in the next three years. The shipyards beat out Japanese rivals for the orders, which are worth more than USD $9 billion. The new ships will increase the global LNG fleet by around 10 percent. Dominating this segment is key for shipyards, as gas consumption outgrows that of other fuels such as oil or coal.


Global LNG demand is surging from new users in emerging markets and because of a huge gasification program in China. The fuel is set to become important for marine transport as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will require shippers to use cleaner fuels from 2020. The rising thirst is being met by new production projects, especially in North America and Australia, which will require more ships to transport LNG to its customers.


South Korea has expanded their shipyard dominance following a rebound from a sector-wide slump two years ago and are positioned to command the sector in the future, outperforming Japanese competitors this year with the equities for all three Korean firms rising while the Japanese builders are either flat or down. “The demand for LNG carriers surged followed by increased global demand of LNG,” said Park Hyung-gun, vice president of DSME. “There is a bright outlook ahead for LNG demand and South Korean shipbuilders will be able to excel in the LNG market.”


Ship brokerage Braemar estimates South Korean yards have bagged 78 percent of all LNG-related orders this year, with just 14 percent and 8 percent going to Japan and China, respectively, including floating LNG storage and support vessels. According to Braemar, two-thirds of the global LNG vessels in service today were built in South Korea versus 22 percent from Japan, 7 percent from China, and the remaining made in France, Spain, and the United States. Virtually all the LNG from new projects in the Russian Arctic, Papua New Guinea, Australia, the United States, East Africa or Qatar will be delivered on South Korean ships made near the cities of Busan and Ulsan on the country’s southern coast.


South Korea’s edge comes from its technological and service standards as well as investment into research and development. DSME developed the world’s first ice-breaking LNG tankers and the company will deliver the eighth such ship, the Georgiy Brusilov, to Russia’s Arctic LNG producer Novatek this month. Another six are under construction. Price is a factor in South Korea’s success, as well as the LNG industry shifting away from the Moss tanker design to a Membrane-type vessels that leave less dead space within the ship’s hull. Braemar estimates 71 percent of the global LNG tanker fleet is made up of Membrane carriers, versus 22 percent Moss tankers, and 7 percent using other systems.


China expands its ban on waste and recycling imports from first-world countries


China is extending its ban on imports of solid waste a year after introducing its first restrictions against first-world countries that send their garbage and recycling there. The regulatory action expands its prohibition to thirty-two categories of solid waste, up from the twenty-four banned last year. The ban will go into effect on December 31, according to official news agency Xinhua, citing four Chinese government agencies.


China says the policy changes are in line with a new push to protect the environment, suggesting Beijing no longer wants to be the world's trash can or recycle bin. Since 1992, 72 percent of global plastic waste has ended up in China and Hong Kong, according to a study in the journal Science Advances. China bought more than half of the scrap materials exported by the United States last year, but that proportion has been falling with Beijing's regulatory moves cutting down the types of waste Chinese companies could buy.


Newly banned product types include hardware, ships, auto parts, stainless steel waste and scrap, titanium and wood. For products such as cardboard and metal, China set a contamination level of 0.5 per cent last year, an extremely low threshold that required the U.S. and other recyclers to change technology and sorting techniques to meet the new standards. Global plastic exports to China were forecast to fall from 7.4 million tonnes in 2016 to 1.5 million tonnes in 2018, while paper exports might tumble nearly a quarter.


Dying star could unleash a powerful gamma-ray burst in our galaxy


Published in the academic journal Nature Astronomy, an international team of researchers reveals their findings on a star system 8,000 light-years from Earth, called Apep. They believe Apep contains a start that will one day produce one of the most powerful explosions in the universe, known as a gamma-ray burst.


Gamma-ray bursts have been observed in other galaxies, but never in our own. These powerful explosions come in two types: long-duration and short-duration. They can give off more energy in a few seconds than our sun will in its entire lifetime. They are so powerful, that it's believed a gamma-ray burst could be behind an extinction event on Earth about 450 million years ago.


In 2012, astronomer Joe Callingham, then working on his Ph.D at the University of Sydney, booked time on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile where he discovered a beautiful pinwheel. It's believed that the curved tails of Apep form as the two stars orbiting at the centre throw dust into the expanding winds, almost like a rotating lawn sprinkler.


The researchers suggest at the heart of the pinwheel are two massive Wolf-Rayet stars with winds that collide in the centre and produce dust. They calculate the winds are travelling at almost 12 million kilometres an hour, or one per cent of the speed of light. One of the stars is at the end of its life, and will undoubtedly die in a powerful explosion, called a supernova. Wolf-Rayet titan stars are the size of more than 20 times that of Earth’s sun but live only a few million years, compared to stars like our solar system’s, which live for 10 billion years.