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JOHANNESBURG - The memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday is poised to be one of the largest such gatherings in generations with tens of thousands of local mourners and almost 100 foreign leaders expected.
By Dinesh Nair and David French DUBAI (Reuters) - Three state-owned Gulf firms are considering a joint bid for a minority stake in Occidental Petroleum Corp's Middle East and North Africa (MENA) unit, a deal that could be worth between $8 billion and $10 billion, three banking sources said. Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Co , Qatar Petroleum and Oman Oil Co have formed a consortium and have picked Citigroup to advise them, the sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday. Occidental, the fourth-largest U.S. oil company, said in October it planned to sell a minority stake in its MENA operations as part of a restructuring meant to lift its valuation. Occidental and Qatar Petroleum were not immediately available for comment, while Citi and Mubadala declined to comment.
EDMONTON - Music legend Neil Young is playing four concerts in his native Canada to benefit a northern Alberta aboriginal band fighting oilsands development in its territory. Canadian jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall is to appear as a special guest. "The theme of the concerts is honour the treaties," said Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation spokeswoman Eriel Deranger. Young made his opinion of oilsands development clear when he visited the band and the region last fall.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Pakistani leaders Monday that if they don't resolve protests stalling some military shipments across the border with Afghanistan, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an aid program that has sent billions of dollars to Islamabad, defence officials said. In response, the officials said, Hagel received assurances from the Pakistanis that they would take "immediate action" to resolve the shipment problem. Just last week, anti-American protests along one of the primary border crossing routes in Pakistan prompted the U.S. to stop the shipments from Torkham Gate through Karachi last week, due to worries about the safety of the truckers. The defence officials said Hagel described a political reality on Capitol Hill that could complicate support for the billions of dollars of aid Pakistan now receives.
Struggling teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co said it will extend Chief Executive Mike Jeffries' contract by at least a year after it expires in February, days after a shareholder urged the company to replace him. Abercrombie shares fell as much as 4 percent in early trade on Monday. "The ideal scenario that investors were hoping for was that Mike Jeffries would be replaced when his contract expired," Morningstar Inc analyst Bridget Weishaar told Reuters, but said this was unlikely, given the board's support. Abercrombie instead announced plans to hire brand presidents for its Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie kids, and Hollister brands to help with its succession planning.
DENVER - Aron Ralston, the Colorado adventurer who cut off his forearm to free himself from a dislodged boulder in a Utah canyon â€” an ordeal made into the movie "127 Hours," was arrested in Denver on allegations of domestic violence after police say he and his girlfriend got into an altercation. Ralston and Vita Shannon were both booked Sunday on charges of assault and "wrongs to minors." Family members said Shannon's mother is caring for the child. Ralston's attorney, Jeff Pagliuca, declined to comment.
TORONTO - The sentencing hearing for an Ontario company convicted in a deadly explosion of a Toronto propane plant has been postponed until March 12. Sunrise Propane and its directors Shay Ben-Moshe and Valery Belahov were found guilty in June of nine provincial offences related to the 2008 blast that forced thousands of people from their homes. Twenty-five-year-old employee Parminder Saini died in the blast and a 55-year-old firefighter who responded to the emergency on his day off died of a heart attack.
(Reuters) - A Republican member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission blasted other government regulators on Monday for requiring JPMorgan Chase & Co to pay $13 billion to resolve allegations of mortgage misdeeds tied to the financial crisis. "I think you would be hard-pressed to find any rational regulatory policy that would underlie a $13 billion penalty against shareholders," said SEC member Dan Gallagher, a Republican. Last month JPMorgan agreed to pay $13 billion to resolve claims from the Justice Department, a federal housing regulator, and others, that the bank overstated the quality of mortgages it was selling to investors in the run-up to the financial crisis. The SEC was not a party to the settlement, which included $9 billion in cash and the rest as help to consumers.
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association split between the space odyssey "Gravity" and the futuristic romance "Her," lending no more certainty to an awards season that's so far been full of contenders. The innovatively made, lost-in-space drama won for best director (Alfonso Cuaron), best editing (Cuaron and Mark Sanger) and best cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki). "Her," which is about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer operating system (voiced by Scarlet Johansson), also won for K.K. Barrett's sleek, near-future production design. Best actress was shared by Cate Blanchett for her fallen socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," and Adele Exarchopoulos for the lesbian coming-of-age tale "Blue Is the Warmest Color." (The later film also won for best foreign language film.)
By Laura Noonan LONDON (Reuters) - Banks in Europe, keen for any hints about next year's industry health check by European regulators, will find few pointers from Ireland's just-completed review of its three major lenders. The Irish test results - released by banks on December 2 as a pre-cursor to the country's December 15 exit from its sovereign bailout - could have provided a flavor of the tests the European Central Bank (ECB) is lining up for the euro zone's 128 largest banks over the next year. forerunner Dublin had hoped its own "balance sheet assessment" of Ireland's main banks would count as part of Europe's banking industry check-up. But the Irish banks are not off the hook as the ECB has said they will be put through their paces in the same way as other banks in 2014.
By Estelle Shirbon LONDON (Reuters) - Former Goldman Sachs banker Elias Preko was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison by a London court on Monday for laundering $5 million on behalf of James Ibori, the former governor of Nigeria's oil-producing state of Delta. Harvard graduate Preko, 54, became the fifth of Ibori's associates to be jailed for assisting his corruption after the ex-governor's wife, mistress, sister and lawyer were all convicted by British courts in previous trials. Preko had left Goldman Sachs before he committed the offences and the bank is not accused of any wrongdoing.
By Jan Strupczewski and Annika Breidthardt BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European countries are seeking to agree before year-end on how to close failing lenders, part of an ambitious plan to create a single banking framework and fix broken banks whose problems have festered since the financial crisis. Under pressure to strike a deal by the time European Union leaders hold a summit next week, finance ministers will try to resolve ongoing differences during two days of talks. Creating an agency to close euro zone banks, as well as a fund to pay for the clean-up, would mark a deepening of integration of the 17 nations sharing the euro. It will be a lot of work," said Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, adding that ministers may need to meet again to clinch an agreement.
By Leah Schnurr TORONTO (Reuters) - New homebuilding in Canada slowed slightly in November, coming in below economists' expectations and suggesting some stabilization for the country's robust housing market, data released on Monday showed. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts was 192,235 units last month from a downwardly revised 198,161 in October, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said. Canada's housing market has shown resilience this year after a slowdown in the second half of 2012 when the federal government tightened mortgage rules due to concern consumers are taking on too much debt. Policymakers have kept a close eye on the housing market, which boomed following the financial crisis due to record low borrowing costs.