FTSE 100 marches higher, with Wall Street expected to join fun

… (LON:RIO) down amid falling base metals prices, and two general insurers, Admiral Group PLC (LON:ADM) and Direct Line Insurance (LON:DLG).
  • FTSE 100 closes higher

  • Sterling’s loss is Footsie’s gain

  • All eyes on Fed minutes

FTSE 100 closed higher midweek as traders awaited the publications minutes from last month’s US Federal Reserve meeting.

Traders hope the tone from the US monetary policy committee meeting will be towards a further easing of interest rates, rather than a tightening of policy, which is making dealers buy up shares.

“In late July, the Fed cut rates, and dealers are banking on dovish language in the report, which might signal further rate cuts this year,” noted David Madden, analyst at London-based CMC Markets.

“Since the rate cut, the global macroeconomic mood has soured – US-China trade tensions, the UK and Germany saw negative growth, and increased unrest in Hong Kong,” he added.

The UK’s premier share index finished up 78.97 points at 7,203.97. Meanwhile, the more UK company focused FTSE 250 added 199.66 points at 19,207.75 as no-deal Brexit fears were apparently pushed aside.

On currency markets, the pound lost 0.22% against the US dollar further supporting the internationally-focused Footsie, while the gold price was near flat at US$1,513 an ounce.

3.25pm: Markets upbeat

US stocks have joined in with global markets’ good mood, with retailers Target Corporation and Lowe’s Co leading the way after they reported earnings.

The Dow Jones climbed 222 points or 0.9% to 26,186, while the S&P 500 index was up 0.8% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.9%.

With market watchers fretting about a possible recession, the retail pair both reported strong consumer demand.

Target shares surged 19% to an all-time high above $101 after second-quarter results from the discounter topped analyst expectations, with same-store sales growing 3.4% compared to the 2.9% expected.

Home improvement chain Lowe’s jumped 11% to $108.43 as it beat the Street’s estimates on revenue, same-store sales and earnings.

“We capitalized on spring demand, strong holiday event execution and growth in paint and our pro business to deliver strong second quarter results,” said chief executive Marvin Ellison, who has been at the company just over a year ago.

Meanwhile, in Brexitland, the pound lurched to day’s lows as newswires AFP and Bloomberg reported that the French government is expecting a no-deal Brexit as the “most likely scenario”, which would result in the immediate imposition of controls on the EU’s borders with Britain.

Sterling was down 0.4% against the dollar at 1.2119 and the euro at 1.0920, while the FTSE 100 was up 1.2% to just over 7,207

Boris Johnson’s Paris visit tomorrow heating up:

Emmanuel Macron aide tells AFP no deal ‘is becoming most likely scenario’

The aide insists that Britain will still have to pay £39bn Brexit divorce bill

‘The idea of saying there’s not a deal so I won’t pay does not work’

— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) August 21, 2019

2pm: European stocks in the green

There is a focus on Europe today as Boris Johnson heads off to talk Brexit with German premier Angela Merkel, while Germany’s bond sale hits a bum note and Italy reacts to the resignation of prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

After Conte quit and fired off a few epithets at his coalition partners, markets welcomed the populist partnership’s almost-certain end.

Italy’s FTSE MIB is the strongest gainer among the European indices, up 1.9%, while London’s FTSE 100 was up 1.2% at 7,212.

As Germany prepares to welcome the British PM, the country’s central bank created an unwanted record by selling the first ever 30-year government bonds with a zero coupon, which due to the price paid actually will have a negative yield of -0.11%.

READ: Why might investors buy negative yield government bonds?

Merkel meanwhile said in a speech that the talks with Johnson will cover “how we can get the most friction-free British exit from the European Union possible as we must fight for our economic growth”.

Analysts at Monex Europe said: “The chances of a breakthrough seem slim, but given Boris yesterday hinted at Britain being willing to make ‘commitments’, and Merkel said that the Irish backstop could be bypassed by a practical solution, there is at least a glimmer of hope for good news.”

The pound was having none of it, still down 0.3% versus the dollar at 1.2137, with tweeted efforts from the White House not moving the dial either, with the negative German debt further enraging President Trump.

…..We are competing with many countries that have a far lower interest rate, and we should be lower than them. Yesterday, “highest Dollar in U.S.History.” No inflation. Wake up Federal Reserve. Such growth potential, almost like never before!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019

1.45pm: Experian gets acquisition boost

Among the top blue chips today are credit checker Experian PLC (LON:EXPN), up 2% as it acquired Look Who’s Charging (LWC), an Australian outfit providing nifty technology to the banking sector.

This technology helps with “transaction enrichment and categorisation”, which the London-listed company says is designed to “make banking smoother and more straightforward for bank customers”.

Simply put, LWC shows small businesses and consumers who’s who on their bank statements, rather than a random list of numbers.

Capita PLC (LON:CPI) is also up 2% after it was upgraded to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’ at Goldman Sachs.

Other broker action saw Victrex PLC (LON:VCT) upgraded to ‘equalweight’ by Barclays as analysts see 20% upside risk to consensus estimates on earnings per share, while Tullow Oil plc (LON:TLW) was lifted by an upgrade to ‘buy’ at Canaccord Genuity.

12.25pm: Wall Street expected to join market march higher

Wall Street is tipped to join in the market merry-making on Wednesday, while the FTSE 100 continues to inch higher.

On futures markets, the Dow Jones is pencilled in for an 0.6% gain to just over 26,000, with the S&P 500 seen adding 0.7% and the Nasdaq Composite best of all at 0.8%.

Nerves about a US recession look to have settled a little after last week’s panic, says market analyst Craig Erlam at Oanda.

“Now that everyone is an expert in inverted yield curves and the apocalyptic foresight they contain, there seems to be an odd acceptance of where we’re heading (or is it denial?)”

Another day spent waiting for that special yield curve to invert. #drumsfingers

— Chris Beauchamp (@ChrisB_IG) August 21, 2019

“The Fed will be all too aware of the events of the last week, not just because of its historic significance, but because investors are now relying on them even more heavily to save the day,” Erlam said.

“Markets are effectively pricing in a rate cut every remaining meeting this year. Are investors setting themselves up for disappointment or leaving the Fed with little choice but to follow?

“Clearly Powell can’t afford to get it wrong on Friday because any signal that markets are way off the mark will likely cause further mayhem, not to mention a backlash from the White House.”

While minutes of the most recent Fed meeting are due later today, Erlam said recent events might make them rather outdated.

Back in London, the FTSE is up 80 points or 1.1% at 7,205.28, as the pound softens further, down 0.3% against the greenback at $1.2130.

10.30am: Gains extended as TUI leads the way

London stocks have continued to rally on Wednesday morning, with news of a smaller than expected UK budget surplus unlikely to be providing the catalyst.

The Office for National Statistics revealed that July saw a small surplus of £1.32bn compared to £3.56bn a year earlier.

Public sector net borrowing, excluding banks, is up 60% year over year in the first four months of the fiscal year at £16bn.

“The small surplus in July’s public finances wasn’t enough to make up for the jump in borrowing since the start of the financial year and means that government borrowing still looks like it will overshoot the OBRs forecast,” said Capital Economics.

Economist Tom Pugh said it was likely that government borrowing will continue to overshoot the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast over the next few months as the government ramps up spending on preparations for a no deal Brexit, while a change in accounting approach will raise the deficit by more than £10bn a year.

Among the biggest share price movers in the upper FTSE echelons, tour operator TUI AG (LON:TUI) was flying highest, up 4% to 791.6p.

Research by UBS showed all the airlines showed more deterioration than expected in their most recent customer review scores, nut with TUI showing the highest score among 20 airlines.

Elsewhere, dollar earners were doing well in general as the pound softened another 0.2% against the dollar to 1.2141, with leaders including Smurfit Kappa Group Plc (LON:SKG), Burberry Group PLC (LON:NRBY) and Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.).

The FTSE 100 was up 75 points or 1.05% to 7,199.81, with only five stocks in the red, with miners BHP Group PLC (LON:BHP) and Rio Tinto PLC (LON:RIO) down amid falling base metals prices, and two general insurers, Admiral Group PLC (LON:ADM) and Direct Line Insurance (LON:DLG).

8.52am: Stronger start than expected

The FTSE 100 got off to a stronger than expected start, rising 31 points to 7,155.74.

Sentiment for the coming days could be shaped by the US Federal Reserve minutes out after hours London time.

Ahead of their publication trading volumes in the dealing rooms of the Square Mile are likely to remain subdued.

Gold, a haven investment in times of uncertainty, continued to hold firm above US$1,500 an ounce, reflecting the nerves of the market.

The pound was steady at US$1.2153 with forex traders buoyed by comments by German chancellor Angela Merkel stating the EU would look at “sensible” suggestions for solving the UK-Ireland border issue.

Turing to the stock market, construction group Costain (LON:COST) led the All-Share with a 12.6% rise.

This after its profits crumbled. It appears, however, the carnage wasn’t quite as bad as the market had been anticipating.

Nostrum Oil & Gas (LON:NOG) was the day’s big loser as it tanked 20% after Berenberg slashed its target price and downgraded the shares to ‘sell’.

READ: Nostrum gets bloody nose after Berenberg double-downgrade

6.30am: FTSE 100 set to open a “touch higher”

The FTSE 100 is expected to open a touch higher on Wednesday as investors seemed content to stay put while awaiting possible direction from Fed minutes due later.

Spread-betting firm IG expects the FTSE 100 to open about 4 points higher after the index closed 64 points lower at 7,125 on Tuesday.

Fears of a recession have been mixed with hopes of renewed fiscal and economic stimulus by national governments to counter the slowdown, with US President Donald Trump recently floating the idea of tax cuts while the German government is seemingly considering a bond sale.

Traders will also be looking to the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s previous policy meeting in June, when it cut interest rates for the first time since 2008, to gauge the possibility of further cuts this year.

This will also be in focus ahead of the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole seminar later this week, which will provide further clues on how the central bank plans to boost growth.

The gloomy mood around a recession weighed on US markets overnight, with the Dow Jones ending Tuesday 0.66% lower at 25,962 while the S&P 500 fell 0.79% to 2,900 and the Nasdaq dropped 0.68% to 7,948.

The pessimism continued into the Asian markets on Wednesday, with the Japanese Nikkei 225 down 0.3%, although Hong Kong’s Hang Seng bucked the trend slightly and was up 0.11%.

On the currency markets, the pound slipped 0.12% to US$1.2154 against the dollar and was also down 0.05% at €1.0955 against the euro amid ongoing doubts that Boris Johnson will be able to extract any concessions from major EU leaders when he visits Berlin and Paris this week.

Quiet day for company news

Wednesday looks like being another quiet one in the Square Mile, with only a handful of companies known to be releasing news, while there is also some relatively small-time data due.

One of the few set to report is industrial REIT, Hansteen Holdings plc (LON:HSTN), which is due to post its half-year numbers.

Significant events expected on Wednesday August 21:

Interims:Charter Court PLC (LON:CCFS), Costain PLC (LON:COST), Empresaria Group plc (LON:EMR), Hansteen Holdings plc (LON:HSTN)

Economic data: UK public sector net borrowing, US existing home sales, MBA US mortgage applications, US crude oil inventories

Around the market:

Sterling: US$1.2154, down 0.12%

Brent crude: US$60.35 a barrel, up 0.5%

Gold: US$1,502.47 an ounce, down 0.14%

Bitcoin: US$10,230.4, down 5.3%

Proactive news headlines:

ReNeuron Group PLC (LON:RENE) has appointed three people with “world-class breadth of expertise” in the fields of ophthalmology and stem cell research to its scientific advisory board.

Brady PLC (LON:BRY) had reported that recurring revenues for the first half of its financial year have been in line with expectations.

Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (LON:COPL) said it will raise £500,000 via a stock placing at 0.1p a share.

Asiamet Resources Ltd (LON:ARS) expects to improve the economics of its Beruang Kanan Main (BKM) copper project Indonesia after signing up a well-connected Chinese engineering, procurement and construction management contractor.

Galantas Gold Corp (LON:GAL) confirmed sales of US$460,000 in its second-quarter following the start of shipments from the Omagh mine in Northern Ireland.

City headlines:

Giuseppe Conte has resigned as Italy’s prime minister, deepening the country’s political crisis – Financial Times

A major newspaper closely connected to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has raised concerns over Oyak’s deal to rescue British Steel from insolvency – Telegraph

British technology start-ups have received a record $6.7 billion in new funding this year, shrugging off concerns over a no-deal Brexit – The Times

Britain will automatically enrol nearly 90,000 companies in a customs system in order to reduce the risk of Brexit disruption, the government said, its latest attempt to show it can leave the European Union without a deal if necessary – Reuters

Mike Ashley has sacked the boss of Jack Wills just weeks after buying the preppy clothing retailer out of administration – Telegraph

The EU turned down Boris Johnson’s latest call to renegotiate the terms for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc – FT

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Sequans Monarch LTE Chip Validated for NB-IoT on SoftBank Network

(“SoftBank”), a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp. and a leading telecommunications operator in Japan, has validated Sequans’ Monarch chip for …

PARIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Sequans Communications S.A. (SQNS) announced that SoftBank Corp. (“SoftBank”), a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp. and a leading telecommunications operator in Japan, has validated Sequans’ Monarch chip for NB-IoT operation on its network.

“Sequans Monarch is one of the most mature solutions in the industry,” said Hironobu Tamba, vice president, head of Smart IoT Division, SoftBank Corp. “The validation of Monarch for NB-IoT operation is an achievement is of key importance, especially for customers who want to deploy battery-powered IoT devices, such as meters and sensors, cost-effectively.”

“New NB-IoT devices based on Monarch can now launch quickly with this official stamp of approval from SoftBank,” said Georges Karam, Sequans CEO. “Our customers are getting ready to launch a wide range of very interesting IoT devices, including a children’s tracker and a smart city security device, and we look forward to seeing them come to life very soon.”

Validation on the SoftBank network proves Monarch’s reliability and technological excellence as an NB-IoT chip solution. Sequans’ Monarch is the world’s most highly optimized LTE-M/NB-IoT chip platform. It provides full support for power saving mode (PSM) and extended discontinuous reception (eDRX) to enable the long battery life needed by many IoT use cases, and it provides the enhanced coverage modes that extend coverage for deep-indoor and remote deployments. Monarch comprises baseband, RF, power management, and RAM in a single package. Monarch also supports advanced features such as programmable RF filtering for global band support in a Single-SKU™, and proprietary dynamic power management technology, enabling industry-leading, rock bottom low power consumption of 1 micro amp.

The validation of Monarch for NB-IoT operation follows validation for LTE-M operation received from SoftBank last year.

About Sequans Communications

Sequans Communications S.A. (SQNS) is a leading provider of single-mode 4G LTE semiconductor solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) and a wide range of broadband data devices. Founded in 2003, Sequans has developed and delivered seven generations of 4G technology and its chips are certified and shipping in 4G networks around the world. Today, Sequans offers two LTE product lines: StreamrichLTE™, optimized for broadband devices, including CPE, mobile and portable routers, and high-performance IoT devices; and StreamliteLTE™, optimized for lower data rate and narrowband IoT devices, including wearables, trackers, and sensors. Sequans is based in Paris, France with additional offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, South Korea, and China. Visit Sequans online at www.sequans.com; www.facebook.com/sequans; www.twitter.com/sequans

SOURCE: Sequans Communications S.A.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190716005487/en/

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European stock markets cautiously rise at start of hectic week

Facebook shares rose 3.3 per cent as the world’s biggest social network prepares to outline details on Tuesday of a virtual currency launching next …

LONDON: European stock markets mostly ticked upwards on Monday (Jun 17) as investors moved cautiously at the start of a busy week packed with key interest rate decisions, in particular from the US Federal Reserve.

The indices in London and Paris closed modestly ahead after Hong Kong stocks rallied, with investors there cheering a decision by the city to suspend plans to push through a controversial extradition law.

Wall Street also slightly rose as traders took a breather ahead of the G20 summit next week, where US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are due to hold hotly-awaited talks on their long-running trade war.

“There isn’t a tonne of conviction in the early going, partly because the market appears to be caught up in a swirl of headlines carrying loose ends,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare.

One of those swirling headlines is the ongoing tension between the US and Iran – on Monday Tehran announced its uranium stockpile will soon pass the limit set under a nuclear deal that Washington abandoned last year.

The news exacerbated an already strained relationship after the US blamed Iran for two tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman last week, claims that Tehran calls “baseless”.

“Tensions in relation to trade and the Iranian situation still persist, and they are hanging over stock markets,” said analyst David Madden at trading firm CMC Markets UK.

FED U-TURN?

Naeem Aslam at London-based trading firm ThinkMarkets said this week “the focus is going to remain on central banks and their monetary policies”.

“Traders are betting that the Federal Reserve will take a U-turn this year for its monetary policy and it is only a matter of time before we see a rate cut by the Fed,” she added.

The US central bank will unveil its monetary policy announcement on Wednesday, followed by both the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England on Thursday.

Many observers are tipping a US rate reduction next month as the world’s biggest economy shows signs of stuttering.

“Anything less than a clear signal that the Fed is open to cutting rates soon in response to building downside risks to the US economic outlook could leave financial markets disappointed,” noted MUFG currency analyst Lee Hardman.

“The US rate market is well priced for at least a (quarter-point) rate cut to be delivered by July.”

‘COOLER HEADS’ IN HONG KONG

In Hong Kong, investors returned to buying after three days of losses that saw the Hang Seng drop more than two per cent after protests against the law – which would have allowed extradition to China – turned violent on Wednesday.

Another, peaceful, demonstration Sunday saw around two million people take to the streets, according to organisers.

The plan had also spooked business leaders who feared it would damage the city’s reputation as an international business hub.

Traders “will breathe a loud sigh of relief today, as on Wednesday when tear gas and rubber bullets were filling the air, the markets were getting extremely jittery that this ticking time bomb was about to explode”, said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.

“Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.”

In individual stocks, shares in Sotheby’s auction house soared by more than 57 per cent after the company announced it would be acquired by French telecoms and media mogul Patrick Drahi.

Facebook shares rose 3.3 per cent as the world’s biggest social network prepares to outline details on Tuesday of a virtual currency launching next year.

In commodities, oil prices retreated from last week’s gains that followed the tanker attacks in the Gulf.

Key figures around 1540 GMT:

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 per cent at 7,357.31 points (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 per cent at 12,085.82 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 per cent at 5,390.95 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 per cent at 3,382.21

New York – Dow: UP 0.2 per cent at 26,150.10

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.03 per cent at 21,124.00 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.45 per cent at 27,240.35 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.20 per cent at 2,887.62 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.1231 from US$1.1208 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.2563 from US$1.2589

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.61 yen from 108.56 yen

Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 26 cents at US$61.75 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 21 cents at US$52.30 per barrel

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Prime Minister concludes travel to United Kingdom and France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day …

… Axper, Ballard Power Systems Inc., CGI, Décathlon, Effenco, Element AI, Fonds Transatlantique, Kanata, Hootsuite, Laporte Euro, Moment Factory.

PARIS, June 7, 2019 /CNW/ – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today concluded his visit to Portsmouth, Juno Beach, and Paris, where he attended commemorative events to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

During the visit, Prime Minister Trudeau joined other world leaders in Portsmouth for a D-Day commemorative event organized by the United Kingdom. There, he paid tribute to Lieutenant-Colonel Cecil Merritt, the first Canadian awarded with a Victoria Cross in the Second World War. He also met with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Prime Minister Trudeau later attended the Canadian commemorative ceremony at Juno Beach, where he honoured Canadians who took part in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Following the ceremony, he walked along Juno Beach with Canadian Veterans, and listened to their personal accounts. Later in the day, he attended an international commemorative ceremony organized by France.

While in France, Prime Minister Trudeau also met with the President of France Emmanuel Macron and the Prime Minister of France Édouard Philippe. Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron continued their discussions on France’s G7 Presidency priorities, including reducing economic inequality, advancing gender equality, and fighting climate change.

The two leaders discussed the progress made on the CanadaFrance climate partnership and how the two countries can further advance their cooperation on protecting our oceans and biodiversity, and reducing pollution.

Prime Minister Trudeau noted that Canada has been invited to join the Sahel Alliance as an observer and looks forward to working more closely with partners to address challenges facing the Sahel. The leaders welcomed the increase in trade and highlighted the commercial benefits for both Canada and France of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The Prime Minister also welcomed President Macron’s commitment to begin the process for ratification of CETA immediately.

The Prime Minister also took part in a roundtable discussion with Canadian and French business leaders, to promote further trade and investment between Canada and France.

Quote

“For the thousands of Canadians who landed on Juno Beach 75 years ago, it was a day they could never forget. Neither can we. The living memory of the Second World War will soon pass. We share a sacred responsibility to keep Veterans’ stories alive, to recognize the cost of war, and honour their immeasurable sacrifices.”

— The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Quick Facts

  • Portsmouth, an important British industrial city and port during the Second World War, was a major point of departure for the Allied fleet that sailed to the beaches of Normandy in June 1944.
  • The Allied high command made the decision to attack on June 6, 1944 – a date that has become known to history as “D-Day.” A massive Allied force would cross the English Channel, heading for an 80-kilometre stretch of the Normandy coast. There were five landing zones assigned to the forces of Allied nations: Juno Beach (Canada); Gold Beach (United Kingdom); Sword Beach (United Kingdom and France); and Utah Beach and Omaha Beach (United States).
  • On August 25, 1944, the Allies liberated Paris, officially ending the Battle of Normandy.
  • More than 45,000 Canadians lost their lives during the Second World War, of whom over 5,000 were killed during the Battle of Normandy and 359 on D-Day.
  • During the business roundtable, Prime Minister Trudeau met with senior leadership of the following companies: Axper, Ballard Power Systems Inc., CGI, Décathlon, Effenco, Element AI, Fonds Transatlantique, Kanata, Hootsuite, Laporte Euro, Moment Factory.

Associated Links

This document is also available at https://pm.gc.ca/

SOURCE Prime Minister’s Office

For further information: PMO Media Relations: media@pmo-cpm.gc.ca

Related Links

http://pm.gc.ca/

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A Strong Passion for Africa

… had, in attendance, the likes of Chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma, Ken Hu of Huawei, IBM boss Virginia Rometty, and Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi.

Always passionate about the rise of Africa, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, was recently in France to pitch, as he has done many times, the viability of the continent to some of the world’s deepest pockets. Charles Ajunwa writes

Mr. Tony Elumelu, one of Africa’s greatest investors and entrepreneurs himself, spoke at French President Emmanuel Macron’s flagship initiative, Tech for Good summit, which held at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

The summit aims to encourage global tech leaders to think about how new technologies can contribute to the common good, in areas such as education and health.

This year’s edition had, in attendance, the likes of Chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma, Ken Hu of Huawei, IBM boss Virginia Rometty, and Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi.

World leaders such as Prime Ministers of Canada and Britain, Justin Trudeau and Theresa May, Irish politician, Leo Varadkar and former United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, were also at the summit, which gained commitments from 45 tech giants to double the number of women on their management boards to 30 per cent by 2022.

Push for Technology

Elumelu, who is passionate about issues concerning Africa, said he remains “a committed founding member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s flagship initiative, Tech for Good, because it deals directly with two themes very close to my heart – technology and gender equality,” adding “the summit which took place at the Elysee Palace, we retained our attention on technology while also broadening our focus to address diversity and gender inclusion.”

Challenge to World Leaders

In his speech at the summit, Elumelu acknowledged the power of technology to drive economic transformation and development. “Technology is the leading accelerator for economic transformation and development. From efficient payment systems, to access to data that fosters connection and collaboration — technology is our new reality and it offers a world of opportunity and promise,” he said.

He also noted that Africa cannot be left behind. “Africa needs this type of gathering – we are a continent with over 60 per cent of its people under the age of 30 – they need economic opportunities, they need hope. They need Tech for Good and just as important, Tech for All”, Elumelu said.

Continuing, Elumelu said “I represented the African continent to draw attention to our young ones who seek economic hope and opportunity via technology. Technology is a great employer of labour, technology drives inclusiveness, technology helps to alleviate poverty, but we must not forget that in Africa we are just starting out and we cannot afford to lag behind. We need the world to pay attention to Africa so that young Africans are not disenfranchised and left behind in this new technology era.

“We need the world to pay attention to the plight of young Africans so that issues of migration can be addressed in a more fundamental way – by tackling the root cause which is a lack of economic hope. We must address these issues holistically to fight poverty which as we all know is a threat to everyone everywhere.”

Elumelu challenged the leaders present at the Paris summit to train and invest in young Africans.

“I challenged the world leaders who gathered in Paris today, specially invited by President Macron from the most competitive nations in the world and the most innovative and profitable private sector organisations. I challenged them to train and invest in young Africans, and to make capital investments on the continent that will ensure that tech is truly for all. Tech is for good but we must make sure it is for all. These commitments will make the world a more equitable and inclusive place. I reiterated to them that even as they gathered in the next G7 and G20 summits, they should prioritise tech for all on the African continent,” Elumelu urged the world leaders.

Living by Example

Elumelu’s call for increased investment and focus on Africa is a reflection of his own legacy.

He said: “At the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we have led in committing to Tech for All. Our digital hub for African entrepreneurs, TEFConnect, demonstrates the possibilities that can be unlocked on our continent when we leverage technology in business, investment and social good. Our platform is a demonstration of what can be achieved when the digital revolution is democratised – personal empowerment, business growth, equitable bilateral relationships and a more gender balanced and inclusive society.”

In 2015, he committed $100 million of his own money to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a 10-year period.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme has been described as the “largest African philanthropic initiative committed to empowering African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship on the continent.”

“The private sector must be the core driver of Africa’s economic transformation, but this sector cannot attain its full potential if entrepreneurs are left behind,” Elumelu said in a press statement announcing entries into the 2019 cohort of the programme.

After four years, the entrepreneurship has been so successful that it has attracted the support of other international organisations willing to invest in African entrepreneurs.

This year, in addition to the programme’s 1,000 entrepreneurs selected annually, The United Nations Development Programme sponsored an additional 745; the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) paid for 180; and the African Development Bank (AfDB) sponsored another 1,000 entrepreneurs.

Also, Elumelu is the driver of the Africapitalism philosophy, which holds that the private sector, supported by good government reforms and support, has the capacity to transform Africa.

Last year, he was named one of the most influential philanthropists in the world by a UK-based digital platform.

Advocate of Gender Balance

In Paris, Elumelu wasn’t just asking for more investment into Africa. He was also calling for the use of technology to “bridge the gender divide in today’s fast-evolving workspace, drive a more inclusive work environment and accelerate innovations that will further simplify our lives and make us more efficient.

“Why? Because Africa needs to act. According to a report by the Africa CEO Forum, only five per cent of CEOs of major groups in Africa are women. These numbers are staggeringly low – but we are pacemakers and role models.

Elumelu, who co-signed the gender diversity pact aimed at increasing participation of women in leadership and technology by 2022 with other global corporate leaders on behalf of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), said a report by the Africa CEO Forum noted that only five per cent of CEOs of major groups in Africa are women. “These numbers are staggeringly low – but we are pacemakers and role models,” he said.

However, he was quick to point out the gender balance gains made by some of the companies he has major stakes in.

“In our group, we walk the talk – in UBA, we are currently leading in diversity across the 20 African countries we operate in, as well as in the UK, USA and France,” he said.

“31 per cent of senior/executive management positions group-wide are held by women, with nearly 30 per centfemale representation on the boards within the UBA Group – we have female regional CEOs, and some critical functions are female-led – because we appoint on merit – and merit alone. Last September, we announced the appointment of four new directors at UBA, two of which – by no coincidence — were women, bringing the total female representation on our Board to 30 per cent.”

He also noted that similar appointments have been “made at Transcorp Plc, with the appointment of a female CEO for the Hotels and two female Non-Executive directors. At the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we currently have 50 per cent female representation on the board, and a remarkable 100 per centrepresentation in our Senior Management!

“Yet, we remain committed to achieving an even higher representation of women broadly in leadership, including representation on Board and Management Committees within the Group. In our flagship Entrepreneurship Programme, we have seen a dramatic increase in the applications from women-run businesses, from 25 per cent in 2015 to 42 per cent in 2019!

“I thank my good friend, President Macron, for this wonderful opportunity to champion African entrepreneurs, while reconnecting with old friends. It was especially good to touch base again with world leaders including Theresa May of United Kingdom, Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Leo Varadkar of Ireland, and friends including Jack Ma and John Kerry,” he said.

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