* Landesbank Helaba remains in the race (Adds details, background)FRANKFURT, OCT 18 (Reuters) - HSBC on Tuesday said it dropped out of the race to buy WestLB’s corporate lending business after its German unit HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt failed to win exclusive negotiation rights.”Despite intensive talks with WestLB’s owners, no agreement for exclusive talks could be reached,” HSBC Trinkaus said in a statement on Tuesday.With the emergence of landesbank Helaba as a rival bidder, and because of delays in the auction process, HSBC sees a limited possibility to clinch the business specialised in lending to small and medium-sized German companies, it said.WestLB Chief Executive Dietrich Voigtlaender said in a separate statement he regretted the fact that HSBC had dropped out of the bidding process.German savings bank association DSGV in early September said Helaba, the Frankfurt-based landesbank, was examining a takeover of what will remain of WestLB after an overhaul.WestLB, once Germany’s third-largest landesbank — owned by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and local savings banks — is in the process of shrinking its business to a core bank with a balance sheet of 40-45 billion euros ($57-64 billion), known as the “Verbundbank,” that will cater to regional savings banks.The new Verbundbank will be funded and owned by a group of NRW-based savings banks and will have 400 employees — roughly a tenth of the current WestLB staff.WestLB is trying to sell remaining assets such as its corporate lending unit, project financing unit and derivatives business.
Ricardo Soberon, a lawyer who previously worked for a legislator with close links to coca growers, was seen as a risky choice to lead anti-drug efforts in a country that may surpass Colombia as the world’s top cocaine producer.He once criticized coca eradication programs funded by the United States as short-sighted, and still says more energy should be spent helping farmers raise alternative crops like coffee and seizing chemicals used to refine cocaine.Peru gets about half its anti-drugs money from the United States and Soberon is in a delicate dance with U.S. envoys as he tries to change drugs policy without alienating them.Shortly after leftist President Ollanta Humala took office in August, Peru surprised Washington by suspending all coca eradication for a week to evaluate anti-drug programs that are still being reworked.That made for a rocky start in relations but eradication has resumed and Soberon said he has had some success winning over U.S. officials to accommodate Humala’s emphasis on alternative development for farmers who now cultivate coca.He wants programs giving land titles and market access to poor farmers to help bring them into the formal economy.”We’ve reached a basic understanding with the United States about Peru’s new policy, which implies a bit less funding from them for eradication and interdiction, and a bit more funding for alternative development,” he told Reuters.Funding for alternative development is expected to rise to $25 million next year from $22.39 million, while eradication financing may fall to $27.5 million from $38 million, though Soberon’s office said negotiations were ongoing.Soberon called the United States, the world’s top consumer, “a responsible and cooperative partner” in drug control efforts although he and others have long been irked that Peru only gets a slice of the billions in U.S. aid that has gone to Colombia to fight drug-trafficking rebels and other armed groups.As stipulated by its pact with the United States, Soberon said Peru was on track to eradicate 10,000 hectares of coca this year, out of 61,200 hectares planted. Coca plantations have ballooned in recent years despite eradication efforts.CONTROLLING CHEMICALS, TACKLING THE VRAESoberon insists Humala’s commitment to fighting drugs is already showing results. Peru seized 955 kilos of cocaine last week and blocked some $25 million worth of the drug from entering Europe.The government has also closed 18 unlicensed gas stations in the world’s most densely planted coca region, the Apurimac-Ene River Valley, or VRAE.It says the raids show its determination to control the chemicals used to refine cocaine — mainly kerosene and gasoline — instead of just pulling up coca farms. Former President Alan Garcia was criticized for not doing more to target chemicals.The new tactic will also benefit from a $20 million investment in long-delayed software to monitor chemicals at 220 points countrywide, Soberon said.One thorny issue still to unresolved with the United States is how to tackle the VRAE, where remnants of the Shining Path rebel group that wreaked havoc in the 1990s still pose a threat and have killed 50 soldiers in the last two years.Soberon said the United States would rather focus on safer coca growing areas outside the VRAE, whereas Humala, a former military officer, regards the valleys as a top priority.”We’d like to see some percentage of this money go to the VRAE, with the best security possible so that every U.S. dollar in the budget is well spent, with visible results,” he said.The difficulty of working in remote, almost lawless regions like the VRAE has the government entertaining new approaches.Prime Minister Salomon Lerner tals of paying growers not to plant coca and Soberon says markets need to be found for coca grown for tea, cultural and medicinal use. He said a Russian firm plans to buy $1.2 million of legal coca this year.Some say the emphasis on development in coca growing areas has been mostly talk and farmers have not yet felt a change.”The idea is positive but it will work when they sit down for dialogue with coffee and cacao organizations, which we haven’t seen yet,” said Lorenzo Castillo, head of Peru’s coffee council. “Coca is winning the war over coffee.”Although Humala’s teams says he is more determined than any other leader in the last 20 years to tackle drugs, Soberon is unsure if Peru has the resources to prevent it from becoming the world’s top cocaine producer.”Due to the demand in the world it is possible that Peru could become the first,” he said. “But it’s not our fault. We are not guilty, it’s a problem of the international community continuing to demand cocaine.”
“We, as an electric equipment supplier, our partners and the government have a responsibility to bring this information to the public,” said Brian Smithers, business development director for Rexel UK & Ireland.Since April 2010 the UK government has contributed state aid to small-scale renewable energy projects, including solar power, which homeowners can make use of by installing domestic energy technology.Until the end of June, more than 40,000 solar installations made use of the FiT scheme, according to energy watchdog Ofgem figures, but only 13 percent of Rexel’s survey respondents said they understood the programme well.Nevertheless a large majority — 94 percent — of interviewees said energy efficiency was important and 87 percent said they paid attention to their energy consumption.The survey also showed Britons and Americans agree that the prospect of saving money through energy efficiency was the strongest incentive, while French and Germans are more concerned about saving the environment.Britons are more aware of the roll out of energy measurement smart meters to all homes in their country by the end of 2018, with 65 percent saying they had heard of the plan.But a separate survey by UK energy supplier E.ON showed just one third of its poll respondents knew what a smart meter does, with some consumers believing it was an electronic device that lets you make face-to-face calls with your energy supplier.E.ON aims to install 1 million smart meters by the end of March 2014 and has opened a smart meter contact center to inform customers.
By Nishant Kumar and Denny ThomasHONG KONG, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp (BofA) has named Peter MacDonald as the head of its equities business for the Asia-Pacific, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, a move that aligns BofA’s Asian business with the global structure.MacDonald, who had previously worked with Goldman Sachs Group Inc for 17 years, joined BofA in 2010 as vice-chairman of Asia-Pacific.He was promoted to his new role after Yasuhiro Fujiwara resigned as co-head of global capital markets for Asia-Pacific last week, the memo said. Fujiwara was leaving to pursue personal interests after spending nearly 14 years with BofA, the memo added.MacDonald was responsible for setting up Goldman Sachs’ securities business in mainland China, the memo said. He was made a partner at Goldman Sachs in 2004 and in 2009 he retired from the firm. BofA hired MacDonald to focus on the bank’s strategic initiatives in China.A BofA spokesman confirmed the contents of the memo.Fujiwara and Michael Halloran were Asia-Pacific co-heads of global capital markets, with Fujiwara responsible for the equities business. Under the new arrangement, Halloran would head the Asia-Pacific fixed income business, the spokesman said.BofA is among the few foreign banks still exploring a securities joint venture in China. Such a venture allows Wall Street banks to underwrite stocks and bonds in one of the fastest growing securities markets in the world.MacDonald will report to Brian Brille, president of Asia-Pacific and globally to Fabrizio Gallo, head of global equities, the memo added.