AKKO Invest shares enter Premium category of BSE | The Budapest Business Journal on the web


 Bence Gaál

 Monday, November 2, 2020, 15:00

Asset management company AKKO Investʼs shares are now being traded in the Premium category of the Budapest Stock Exchange (BSE), according to a press release sent to the Budapest Busines Journal.

Zoltán Prutkay, president of AKKO Invest explained that the company had made considerable progress in the Hungarian capital market over the past months: their shares had been included in the top categories of the Budapest Stock Exchange, being listed in the BUX index since September, and traded in the Premium category starting November 2.

He emphasized that the company had more than 1,000 shareholders, so the growth of the company was directly monitored by many people. Transparent operation is especially important for them, so they are happy to meet the additional requirements resulting from the Premium membership, he added.

He also noted that they continued looking for growth opportunities, and they were planning on investment decisions that aim to increase the shareholder value. One step towards this goal is the September decision of the board of directors regarding the largest acquisition of AKKO’s history, which is also considerable from the aspect of the Hungarian property management sector.

The asset management company decided about the purchase of NEO Property Services Zrt. (previously STRABAG Property and Facility), a company owned by WING Zrt. The closure of the transaction, which the company plans to finance from its own financial sources and bank loans, requires the availability of the necessary funding and the approval of the company’s shareholders. 

Regarding the introduction of AKKO’s shares in the Premium category, István Máté-Tóth, deputy CEO of BSE, said that the growth and the increasingly considerable presence of the company in the capital market reflects the successful realization of the strategic objectives of the Budapest Stock Exchange, aiming to drive capital funding: the category shift of AKKO Invest is another welcome capital market milestone in the midst of this challenging year.

Prutkay added that being included in the BUX index and the Premium category, as well as the acquisition of NEO are significant steps for the company towards the realization of its growth plans, which aim to make the company a major asset management company of the Hungarian capital market.

According to the press release, AKKO Invest supports the strategy of the Budapest Stock Exchange announced in 2016, and trusts that new measures will be introduced in the future for the further development of the capital market and for increasing the market liquidity of the stock market.

 

 





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Zeta expected to regain strength, make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane outside New Orleans


The storm is expected strengthen over the next 24 hours leading up to landfall.

As of Tuesday night, it had restrengthened to 70 mph and was moving northwest at about 15 mph.

Zeta, the 27th named storm of the season, is expected strengthen over the next 24 hours leading up to landfall in the U.S. Wednesday evening. It’s expected to touch down as a Category 1 hurricane just south of New Orleans.

Meteorologist said the storm could bring strong winds, up to 8 feet of storm surge and up to 6 inches of rain in some areas. Isolated tornadoes are also possible, adding to the possibility of widespread damage and power outages in parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

Louisiana Gov. John Edwards declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm Monday night. He said he issued the order despite uncertainty surrounding the storm’s final path, and urged residents to follow the guidelines.

“While there is some uncertainty in Zeta’s track, it is likely that Louisiana will see some impacts from this storm, and the people of our state need to take it seriously. It’s easy to let your guard down late in the hurricane season, but that would be a huge mistake,” Edwards said.

He said state officials were already assisting local authorities with “critical items like pumps, generators and food and water” for first responders.

“We stand ready to expand that assistance as needed,” Edwards said in a statement. “Everyone should be monitoring the news for information and should heed any direction they get from their local leaders.”

Forecasters said Zeta will most likely speed off to toward the Northeast and weaken quickly after landfall late Wednesday.

The storm’s remnants could get swept up with another storm system as it leaves the area, potentially bringing heavy rain in areas between the Tennessee Valley into the Northeast, meteorologists said.

ABC News’ Melissa Griffin contributed to this report.



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Category 3 Hurricane Delta Approaches Texas Coast


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Category 3 Hurricane Delta Approaches Texas Coast

South Padre Island, Texas, braced for coastal flooding as Hurricane Delta neared landfall on Friday, October 9, reports said. The National Weather Service issued a high surf warning and a coastal flood warning through 7 pm on Friday. This drone footage shows the strong storm surge Friday morning. Beaches in Cameron County and the greater South Padre Island area were closed, local media reported. As of Friday morning, the storm was Category 3, with 120 mph winds. It was moving north at 12 mph. The coast from Beaumont, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana, was under a hurricane warning. Areas to the east, north, and west were under tropical storm warnings. Credit: Wayne Dodd via Storyful



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Hurricane Laura Live Updates: Category 4 Storm Makes Landfall


Hurricane Laura strikes the United States after days of dire warnings.

Hurricane Laura pounded the Louisiana and Texas coasts as it made landfall near Cameron, La., as a Category 4 storm early Thursday, delivering a barrage of 150-mile-per-hour winds and a wall of water that was predicted to reach as high as 20 feet.

Landfall came after officials in both states issued the gravest of warnings, sounding the alarm about a storm that, in many ways, could be one of the worst to hit the region in decades.

The National Hurricane Center called the expected storm surge “unsurvivable,” and said that it could push as far as 40 miles inland. Officials also said that low-lying areas facing the brunt of the storm, like Cameron Parish in Louisiana, would essentially be annexed by the Gulf of Mexico until floods receded.

“I’m asking people right now to pay attention to this storm, to get out of harm’s way,” Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana told residents during a briefing ahead of the storm’s arrival. “Understand, our state has not seen a storm surge like this in many, many decades. We haven’t seen wind speeds like we’re going to experience in a very, very long time.”

In Calcasieu Parish, La., winds have reached 93 miles per hour with gusts of 126 miles per hour, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The National Weather Service said heavy rain had hit Lake Charles, Jennings, Lafayette and New Iberia. People in Lake Charles posted Twitter videos of sheets of rain blowing across the streets and trees buckling over in the background.

Laura was among the strongest storms to ever hit the United States, according to data compiled by Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University who studies hurricanes.

Now that the storm has hit, residents who did not flee a vast stretch of the Gulf Coast spanning from west of Galveston, Texas, to near Lafayette, La., are hunkered down as the storm tears through the dark of night. Officials have said those people would be on their own, as the police and emergency workers would not be able to reach them until the storm had passed.

“Know that it’s just you and God,” Mayor Thurman Bartie of Port Arthur, Texas, warned residents who were staying behind.

In Vermillion Parish, southwest of Lafayette on the Louisiana coast, the sheriff’s office had a grim request for residents who did not leave: “If you choose to stay and we can’t get to you, write your name, address, social security number and next of kin and put it a ziplock bag in your pocket. Praying that it does not come to this!”

The storm was preceded by tough decisions about fleeing and an urgent push to get people out of harm’s way.

More than 500,000 residents in Louisiana and Texas were urged to flee their homes in recent days as Hurricane Laura roared toward the Gulf Coast. Laura intensified into a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday afternoon as it churned through the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

As the first bands of the expansive hurricane approached Lake Charles, his hometown, John O’Donnell hit a nearly empty Interstate 10, heading east for Lafayette or Baton Rouge.

He felt uneasy.

“This just doesn’t feel right,” Mr. O’Donnell, 33, said. “It doesn’t feel right leaving my city like this.”

A frequent city volunteer, Mr. O’Donnell said he had spent the last two or three days urging his fellow Lake Charles residents to evacuate. Privately, he sent his dog off with his ex-wife. Publicly, he posted on social media and drove 25 or 30 people to sites where buses carted them to safer havens outside the city.

Among those Mr. O’Donnell found himself convincing were people too young to remember the impact of Hurricane Rita in 2005, as well as longtime residents who argued that if their homes didn’t flood during that storm, they could make it through this one.

As Mr. O’Donnell sped toward Lafayette on Wednesday afternoon under steely skies, he wondered if he had done enough.

“Those are the ones that haunt me because we didn’t get them all,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “And there’s a lot of people left back there.”

Still, his efforts were clear in one way: Mr. O’Donnell was alone on the drive, having urged his loved ones to flee before the storm.

“It’s me and a bottle of bourbon and a cowboy hat in the passenger seat,” he said. “The bourbon isn’t open, but it will be as soon as I stop.”

Reporting was contributed by Alan Blinder, Chelsea Brasted, Mike Ives, Campbell Robertson, Rick Rojas, John Schwartz and Will Wright





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Texas, Louisiana brace for Category 4 blast


SABINE PASS, Texas — Hurricane Laura has strengthened to become “extremely dangerous” with “unsurvivable storm surge” ahead of landfall Wednesday night or early Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said. 

There are possible tornadoes approaching southeastern Louisiana and extreme southwestern Mississippi, the hurricane center said in its 8 p.m. CDT update. The storm’s maximum sustained winds have reached 150 mph, a “chilling” development, according to the hurricane center. That’s 7 mph away from being a Category 5 storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Sustained tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rains had come ashore in central Louisiana as of 6 p.m. CDT, the hurricane center said.

Laura, which grew to a Category 4 storm Wednesday afternoon with 140 mph winds, is forecast to bring a “catastrophic” storm surge, “extrewinds and flash flooding to eastern Texas and Louisiana, according to the hurricane center.





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Live updates: Laura expected to become Category 4 hurricane with ‘unsurvivable storm surge’


Landfall is still expected near the Texas-Louisiana border.

Laura is expected to intensify to Category 4 hurricane today with 145 mph winds and “unsurvivable storm surge” in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

“Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes,” the NWS said in a statement. “This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline. Only a few hours remain to protect life and property and all actions should be rushed to completion.”

Parts of eastern Texas and western Louisiana are forecast to see “catastrophic wind damage,” especially in places where the storm’s eyewall makes landfall, the NWS said. Residents are urged to brace for “widespread damaging wind gusts” that will spread well inland across parts of those areas early Thursday morning.

Laura has kept people along the Gulf Coast guessing for days as the projected track continues to change. The storm matured into a Category 3 hurricane in the Gulf and forecasters say it could strengthen to a Category 4 even before it makes landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

12:56 p.m.: Louisiana officials expect catastrophic events from storm

OEM officials in Louisiana are putting it bluntly to residents: Leave and leave now.

In their final briefing before Laura makes landfall, officials with Louisiana’s Calcasieu Parish say they expect catastrophic events from the storm.

“Short of pulling people out of their homes, we have done everything humanly possible to get people out of Calcasieu Parish,” said Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter. “As much as it pains me, we are quickly getting to the point where you are going to have to hunker down. Public safety is not going to be able to respond.”

Sheriff Tony Mancuso said that while they could protect property from looters, they can’t protect homes from the wind and the storm surge, both of which are expected to be well above the devastating effect that Hurricane Rita had in 2005.

He, too, begged people to leave and leave now.

“There is nothing at my house that is so important in my house that I would stay there,” he said. “I would love to leave. It is not an option for me. It is an option for you.”

In addition to those leaving in their own vehicles, more than 800 people have been bused out of the area.

12:06 p.m.: Storm strength is at high end of Cat 4

The storm is sustaining winds of about 145 mph, putting it near the higher end of a Category 4 hurricane. Winds above 156 mph designate a Category 5 storm.

In an interview with ABC News, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he woke up Tuesday morning to find Laura’s track had shifted slightly west and closer to Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city with a population of about 7 million.

Officials in Houston and Harris County urged residents to stay off the roads so people evacuating have access to the freeways. Local officials urged all residents in the storm’s path to fill up their gas tanks and generators.

The mayor urged people not to panic. City officials said they don’t expect Laura to be another Hurricane Harvey or Tropical Storm Imelda, which both led to catastrophic flooding. They do, however, expect this storm to be a fast-moving wind event, which could bring a storm surge, structural damage and power outages.

Compounding the situation is the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why Turner told residents to stock up on necessary food, supplies and PPE. He said he anticipates that COVID-19 testing will be suspended until after the storm and that the city won’t be opening mass shelters as it has in years past.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

ABC News’ Janice McDonald contributed to this report.



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Hurricane Laura path to hit Gulf Coast as ‘major’ Category 3 Wednesday


  • The hurricane is expected to bring a huge storm surge of Gulf sea water ashore.
  • State emergencies were declared in Louisiana and Mississippi.
  • Laura passed Cuba after killing at least 23 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

With Tropical Storm Marco out of the way, the stage is set for Hurricane Laura to deliver a devastating blow to the Gulf Coast late Wednesday and early Thursday. 

The National Hurricane Center projected Tuesday that Laura will become a Category 3 major hurricane before landfall, with winds of around 115 mph. A major hurricane has winds of at least 111 mph. 

“Residents along the Texas and Louisiana coasts should anticipate the possibility that Laura will rapidly intensify right up until landfall,” said meteorologist Jeff Masters of Yale Climate Connections. 

Hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings have been issued for portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts. On its way to the U.S., Laura killed at least 23 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.



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One-two punch: Tropical Storm Laura could batter Louisiana and Texas as a category THREE hurricane


Louisiana and Texas are bracing for Tropical Storm Laura to hit as a potential category three hurricane, just 48 hours after being battered by storm Marco.

On Monday Tropical Storm Marco made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana around 6pm CDT, and it’ll bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

Following right behind is Tropical Storm Laura, which could grow into a supercharged Category 3 hurricane with winds topping 105mph and a vicious surge that could swamp entire towns. 

Laura is forecast to make landfall on Wednesday.

Texas and Louisiana have issued states of emergency and residents are evacuating or moving to higher ground to avoid the wrath of the storm that has spiraled past Hispaniola, where it killed at least 12 people according to AFP – three in the Dominican Republic and nine in Haiti.    

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas declared a state of emergency for 23 counties and more than 300,000 people in East Texas are being told to evacuate.

In Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Friday and President Donald Trump approved a federal request for help. 

This NOAA satellite image shows Tropical Storm Laura moving south of Cuba (right) and Tropical Storm Marco in the US Gulf Coast (above)

This map shows how Tropical Storm Laura is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane and slam Louisiana and Texas on Wednesday evening before weakening and spiraling back out to the East Coast

This map shows how Tropical Storm Laura is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane and slam Louisiana and Texas on Wednesday evening before weakening and spiraling back out to the East Coast

In Morgan City, Louisiana locals filled sandbags to prepare for the arrival of rains and floods from Tropical Storm Marco and the potential wrath of Tropical Storm Laura, which is forecast to become a hurricane

In Morgan City, Louisiana locals filled sandbags to prepare for the arrival of rains and floods from Tropical Storm Marco and the potential wrath of Tropical Storm Laura, which is forecast to become a hurricane

People stand in long lines before entering Costo to pick up supplies as they prepare for Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday

People stand in long lines before entering Costo to pick up supplies as they prepare for Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday

Paul Humphrey, of New Orleans, loads plywood into his truck, to board a friend's home in preparation for the storms Sunday

Paul Humphrey, of New Orleans, loads plywood into his truck, to board a friend’s home in preparation for the storms Sunday

Tropical Storm Laura damaged this street in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Sunday and killed at least 12 people in Hispaniola

Tropical Storm Laura damaged this street in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Sunday and killed at least 12 people in Hispaniola

People move their belongings through the floods caused by the passage of Storm Laura in Azua, Dominican Republic Sunday

People move their belongings through the floods caused by the passage of Storm Laura in Azua, Dominican Republic Sunday

Mandatory evacuations were issued Sunday for several communities along the coastline. The Louisiana National Guard is preparing for the blow by mobilizing 98 high water vehicles and 55 boats for response efforts. 

Shelters opened with socially distanced cots designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Edwards urged evacuees to stay with relatives or in hotels. 

‘Our sights are on Laura now,’ Edwards said in a news briefing. ‘It has the potential to be a major hurricane.’

Laura developed in the Atlantic a couple hundred miles east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands on Friday, breaking a record for the earliest L-named storm on record in the basic. The previous ‘L’ storm record was held by Luis which formed on August 29, 1995, according to Accuweather

One of Laura’s fatal victims was a 10-year-old girl whose home was hit by a tree and a mother and young son who were crushed by a collapsing wall.  

By early Monday the storm strengthened near Cuba with wind speeds of 60 mph moving west-northwest at 20ph, after drenching Hispaniola and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.    

Tropical storm force winds from Laura will hit 130mph, according to this forecast, hitting Louisiana and Texas on Wednesday

Tropical storm force winds from Laura will hit 130mph, according to this forecast, hitting Louisiana and Texas on Wednesday

Laura will bring extreme risks to lives and property in Southern Louisiana and through Sunday is anticipated to bring downpours, flash flooding, rip currents and gusty winds affecting Louisiana, East Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi

Laura will bring extreme risks to lives and property in Southern Louisiana and through Sunday is anticipated to bring downpours, flash flooding, rip currents and gusty winds affecting Louisiana, East Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi

The storm will bring heavy rainfall through Sunday affecting a slew of states reaching up towards Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania

The storm will bring heavy rainfall through Sunday affecting a slew of states reaching up towards Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania

The cone of the probable path of the storm sees Laura making landfall late Wednesday and bringing heavy rain up north

The cone of the probable path of the storm sees Laura making landfall late Wednesday and bringing heavy rain up north

Now the South is bunkering down and bracing for the blow.

‘This is unlike anything we have seen, with two [storms] expected to impact our state nearly back to back,’ Gov. Edwards said referring to Marco and Laura Sunday. ‘This may mean that people will have to shelter in place for more than 72 hours and that there may not be time to do things like restore lost power between the two storms.’

Shrimp trawlers and fishing boats were tied up in a Louisiana harbor and red flags warned swimmers to stay away from the pounding surf.

In Louisiana’s Cameron Parish mandatory evacuation orders were issued for much of the area as officials warned seawater pushed inland by the storm would submerge small coastal communities.

In coastal areas residents have moved their possessions to higher ground and filled andbags.

‘Right now we’re right in the bullseye but that could change,’ Jeff Benoit, the owner of B&O Kitchen and Grocery, a restaurant and Cajun food store in Lake Charles, said.

Curious residents of Key West, Florida flock to the Edward B. Knight Pier Monday to witness the wind and wave action of Laura as the storm passes well to the west of the Florida Keys

Curious residents of Key West, Florida flock to the Edward B. Knight Pier Monday to witness the wind and wave action of Laura as the storm passes well to the west of the Florida Keys

Storm surges go over a seawall in Key West, Florida as Tropical Storm Laura quickly approaches the region

Storm surges go over a seawall in Key West, Florida as Tropical Storm Laura quickly approaches the region

Locals and tourists alike gather to watch storm surges go over the seawall at the United States Southern Most Point in Key West on Monday

Locals and tourists alike gather to watch storm surges go over the seawall at the United States Southern Most Point in Key West on Monday

Flooded waters in Key West, Florida pictured above from storm surges as Tropical Storm Laura approaches the region

Flooded waters in Key West, Florida pictured above from storm surges as Tropical Storm Laura approaches the region

A Home Depot in Key West, Florida is seen nearly empty and with plenty of lumber available as locals bunker down to brace for the storm

A Home Depot in Key West, Florida is seen nearly empty and with plenty of lumber available as locals bunker down to brace for the storm

The iconic Sloppy Joe's restaurant and bar is seen with sand backs blocking its doors from storm surges in Key West Monday

The iconic Sloppy Joe’s restaurant and bar is seen with sand backs blocking its doors from storm surges in Key West Monday

The Louisiana National Guard is preparing for the blow by mobilizing 98 high water vehicles and 55 boats for response efforts

The Louisiana National Guard is preparing for the blow by mobilizing 98 high water vehicles and 55 boats for response efforts

A view of Louisiana National Guard high water vehicles and boats pictured above bracing for the storms

A view of Louisiana National Guard high water vehicles and boats pictured above bracing for the storms

‘It’s just a matter of putting up some meats, making sure that’s secure, best I can, anyway, and get the heck out of here,’ he added.

In some districts in-person classes and virtual school sessions were cancelled.

In Port Arthur Texas, Mayor Thurman Bartie said he’ll ask the city’s more than 54,000 residents to evacuate starting at 6am on Tuesday unless the forecast changes.

‘If you decide to stay, you’re staying on your own,’ Bartie said.

In Houston officials asked residents to stock up on supplies in case they lose power for a few days or need to evacuate homes along the coast.

Forecasters posted a hurricane watch from Port Bolivar, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana, a tropical storm watch from Port Bolivar to San Luis Pass, Texas, and from Morgan City to the mouth of the Mississippi, where a collapsing Marco made landfall around 6pm local time. 

Much of the region was also put under a storm surge watch. Forecasters warned of storm surge as high as 11 feet in western Louisiana. Add to that four to 10 inches of rain expected when Laura arrives starting late Wednesday. 

Energy companies moved to cut production at US Gulf Coast oil refineries on Monday after shutting half the area’s offshore crude oil output and evacuating employees as back-to-back storms Marco and Laura take aim at the coast. 

The Interior Department said Monday that 281 platforms had been evacuated by around midday. That’s nearly half of those normally with workers on site.

The department estimated that 82 percent of oil production and 57 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf has been shut down. 

Producers have shut more than 1 million barrels per day of Gulf Coast offshore oil production, 9 per cent of the nation’s total output. 

Energy companies moved to cut production at US Gulf Coast oil refineries on Monday after shutting half the area's offshore crude oil output and evacuating employees as back-to-back storms Marco and Laura take aim at the coast. The Interior Department said Monday that 281 platforms had been evacuated by around midday. That¿s nearly half of those normally with workers on site. The Valero Refinery pictured in Port Arthur, Texas above

Energy companies moved to cut production at US Gulf Coast oil refineries on Monday after shutting half the area’s offshore crude oil output and evacuating employees as back-to-back storms Marco and Laura take aim at the coast. The Interior Department said Monday that 281 platforms had been evacuated by around midday. That’s nearly half of those normally with workers on site. The Valero Refinery pictured in Port Arthur, Texas above

Waves splash at the seafront Malecon during the passage of Tropical Storm Laura in Havana, Cuba on Monday

Waves splash at the seafront Malecon during the passage of Tropical Storm Laura in Havana, Cuba on Monday

A man walks with two goats through a flooded street after the passage of Storm Laura, in Azua, Dominican Republic Sunday

A man walks with two goats through a flooded street after the passage of Storm Laura, in Azua, Dominican Republic Sunday

Motiva Enterprises on Monday started preparations to idle its large Port Arthur, Texas, crude oil refinery, said people familiar with plant operations. Total SA also reduced production at its refinery in the same city, according to people familiar with its operation. 

Gulf Coast refiners and offshore producers account for 45 per cent of all US oil processing and 17 per cent of oil output.

Vessel traffic was closed at the Ports of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and from the lower Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest Gulf Coast oil-export facility, also halted operations at its marine terminal on Sunday.

Other refineries, including Exxon Mobil, Valero Energy and Royal Dutch Shell, are planning to maintain operations at Louisiana plants as the first cyclone arrives on Monday, people familiar with those refineries said. Storm Marco is expected to drop up to five inches of rain along the Louisiana coast. 



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Dropping Flynn Case ‘Puts Us Back in the Category of Almost an Emerging Democracy’



On Thursday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “All In,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) reacted to the dropping of charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn by stating the move “really puts us back in the category of almost an emerging democracy, where the rule of law is not yet firmly established, where prosecutorial decisions are made on the basis of politics.”

Schiff said, “I think we lost 50 years’ worth of ground in solidifying the independence of the Justice Department after Watergate. This really puts us back in the category of almost an emerging democracy, where the rule of law is not yet firmly established, where prosecutorial decisions are made on the basis of politics. Here, Bill Barr, once again, doing the political dirty work for the president in making a case go away that the president tried to get Jim Comey to make go away and then fired him when he wouldn’t, tried to get Jeff Sessions to make go away and he wouldn’t.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett





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Beyond Meat carves its way through COVID-19 pandemic giving confidence to alternative-meat category


Twelve months since its debut on the American stock exchange, the alternative-meat company Beyond Meat continues to surprise many, with ongoing growth and a market value of more than $9.6 billion ($US6.19 billion).

Like a lot of publicly-listed companies, Beyond Meat’s share price crashed in March amid COVID-19 concerns, but its recovery has been noticeable — rising 49 per cent in April and now sitting at $US100, which means its stock has quadrupled from its initial public offering (IPO) price of $US25.

Overnight the company released its earnings for the first quarter of 2020, reporting a net income of $US1.8 million and revenue increasing 141 per cent to $US97.1 million, from a year ago.

“I am proud of our first-quarter financial results, which exceeded our expectations despite an increasingly challenging operating environment due to the Covid-19 health crisis,” CEO Ethan Brown said in a statement.

As traditional abattoirs continue to close in America amid COVID-19 outbreaks and the nation’s biggest meat processor, Tyson Foods, declaring “the food supply chain is breaking”, there are some now wondering if this pandemic will catapult the alternative-meat category even further.

Is anyone eating ‘fake meat’ during the pandemic?

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Since the pandemic began earlier this year, a number of social media posts from across the world have suggested alternative-meats were not on people’s shopping list when panic buying.

Caroline Bushnell from the Good Food Institute said sales data in America did not back up those claims.

“Data from grocery stores around the country [according to Nielsen] shows plant-based meat and milk sales have skyrocketed in the last few months and have out-paced sales growth of conventional meat and milk sales,” she told ABC Rural.

“For example, dollar sales of fresh plant-based meat grew 454 per cent on the week ending March 21, while fresh [traditional] meat sales grew 100 per cent and we’ve seen that consistently week over week.

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“These [plant-based] products are starting at a smaller base and you have to take that into account, but it is a positive sign they’re actually growing during this time and growing faster.”

Ms Bushnell said alternative-meat companies continued to strike major deals during the coronavirus pandemic, including Beyond Meat’s new contract to supply a range of products to Starbucks in China.

“There’s been big news for other companies too, like Impossible Foods, which has recently raised $500 million in its Series F round, at a valuation of nearly $US4 billion,” she said.

Beyond Meat, the year that was

Beyond Meat was the first alternative-meat company to debut on Wall Street and its first day of trading, which saw shares climb 163 per cent, was regarded as one of the biggest IPO’s in over a decade.

At one stage, stocks in Beyond Meat last year rose to $US234 a share.

Ms Bushnell said 2019 was an incredible year for the plant-based meat category and Beyond Meat going public “felt like the tipping point for the category going mainstream”.

“US retail sales of plant-based meats grew 18 per cent in 2019, with fresh plant-based meat sales up 63 per cent in 2019,” she said.

Beyond Meat’s debut on Wall Street was one of the biggest IPO’s in years.(Twitter: @BeyondMeat)

She said the plant-based meat category was still a very small part of the total “meat market”, but felt the industry could reach similar market share as what has been achieved by the plant-based milk category (think almond milk and soy milk), which held 14 per cent share of the total milk market.

“I think the future is bright and I expect the general trend will continue over the next few years as it’s become clear this is not a fad, but rather a real shift in consumer behaviour,” she said.

“While the current environment has created a lot of uncertainty in the market, the global appetite for protein is only going to rise and the world needs more solutions to meet this demand.

“So new methods of making meat, from plants and cells, can diversify and bolster global protein supplies.”

In its first quarter financial report, Beyond Meat admitted it was now navigating “headwinds” stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty has prompted the company to withdraw its 2020 financial outlook.



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