DBS to Buy ANZs Wealth, Retail Units in Five Asian Nations

DBS Group Holdings Ltd. will buy retail and wealth-management businesses from Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in five Asian countries, in a move that lodges the Singaporean lender firmly in the ranks of the regions largest private banks.

DBS will pay S$110 million ($79 million) above the book value of the businesses, which operate in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Indonesia, the lender said in a stock-exchange statement. The deal will add S$23 billion of wealth assets to DBSs books, taking its total assets under management to S$182 billion, it said.

DBS has made significant strides in the wealth business, and recently became the first Singapore and Asian bank to break into the top five private banks in Asia-Pacific, Tan Su Shan, the lenders consumer banking and wealth management head, said in the statement. This acquisition will further cement our leadership position.

Like its larger rivals UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, DBS has expanded its wealth business in recent years to profit from Asias burgeoning ranks of millionaires, a thrust that included buying Societe Generale SAs Asian wealth-management division in 2014. The deal also further diminishes the presence of Australian banks overseas as they seek to refocus on more profitable businesses such as mortgages in their home market.

Winning Positions

ANZ Bank said it will take a A$265 million ($201 million) loss on the deal, which marks a major step in Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliotts drive to unwind his predecessors expansion into Asia. The bank had previously been seeking to earn as much as 30 percent of profit from outside Australia and New Zealand by 2017.

Our strategic priority is to create a simpler, better capitalized, better balanced bank focused on attractive areas where we can carve out winning positions, Elliott said in a statement to the stock exchange. ANZ will focus its resources in Asia on institutional banking, he said.

The Melbourne-based lender is still reviewing its businesses in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines, Elliott said on a call with investors.

DBS shares dropped 0.3 percent to S$14.85 as of 9:25 a.m. in Singapore. In Sydney, ANZ stock added 0.3 percent to A$27.69

DBS is aiming to complete the purchases from ANZ by early 2018, the bank said. The businesses being acquired have total deposits of S$17 billion, loans of S$11 billion and serve about 1.3 million customers, including 100,000 high net-worth individuals, DBS said.

You have a situation where one mans poison is another mans meat, given also the assets are in places DBS already has presence and can scale up, Kevin Kwek, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said in an e-mailed reply to questions. Wealth management is a good business for its funding and fee potential, and long-term growth, so to us its a positive.

Top Ranked

Earlier this year, the bank lost out to smaller Singaporean competitor Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in buying Barclays Plcs wealth and investment-management business in Asia. UBS was the largest private bank in the region at the end of 2015 with $274 billion of assets, according to figures compiled by Asian Private Banker.

Separately, DBS, Southeast Asias largest lender, said Monday net income was little changed at S$1.07 billion in the three months to September from a year earlier as soaring allowances for credit and other losses offset gains from non-interest income. Provisions for soured assets jumped to S$436 million from S$178 million a year ago.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-30/dbs-to-buy-anz-bank-s-wealth-retail-units-in-5-asia-countries

Powerful Quake Shakes Italy, Topples Benedictine Cathedral

Norcia, Italy (AP) — The third powerful earthquake to hit Italy in two months spared human life Sunday but struck at the nation’s identity, destroying a Benedictine cathedral, a medieval tower and other beloved landmarks that had survived the earlier jolts across a mountainous region of small historic towns.

Lost or severely damaged in the shaking were ancient Roman walls, Gothic and Baroque churches and centuries-old paintings crushed beneath tons of brick, sandstone and marble.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said the nation’s “soul is disturbed” by the series of quakes, starting with the deadly Aug. 24 event that killed nearly 300 people, two back-to-back temblors on Oct. 26, and the biggest of them all, a

6.6-magnitude quake that shook people out of bed Sunday morning. It was the strongest quake to hit Italy in 36 years.

There were no reports of fatalities a fact attributed to the evacuation of sensitive areas and fragile city centers. Nearly 8,000 people have been moved to shelters or hotels following the quakes last week and Sunday, and Italy’s Civil Protection agency was expecting that number to reach 11,000 by Monday morning. Many who stayed behind were sleeping in campers or other vehicles, out of harm’s way.

Renzi vowed to rebuild houses, churches and business, saying, “a piece of Italian identity is at stake at this moment.”

“Feeling the earth collapse beneath your feet is not a metaphorical expression but is what happened this morning, and half of Italy felt this,” Renzi said.

The quake struck another painful blow to the rich artistic heritage of villages that dot the Apennine Mountains.

The worst damage was reported in Norcia, a town in Umbria closest to the epicenter. Two churches were destroyed the 14th century Basilica of St. Benedict, built on the traditional birthplace of St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine monastic order; and the Cathedral of St. Mary Argentea, known for its 15th century frescoes. Only the cracked facades were still standing, with most of the structures disintegrating into piles of rubble and dust.

Television images showed nuns rushing into the main piazza as the bell tower appeared on the verge of collapse. Later, nuns and monks knelt in prayer in the main piazza. A firefighter appealed to a priest to help keep residents calm in an effort to prevent them from looking for loved ones.

When the quake stuck, nuns from the Saint Mary of Peace monastery in Norcia were praying and singing hymns. The shaking caused their building to collapse and badly damaged their sleeping quarters. Later, firefighters escorted them back inside to retrieve holy books. Then an aftershock hit.

“But we had courage, because we were in our house and the Lord protects us,” one nun told The Associated Press.

Large sections of Norcia’s ancient Roman city walls which suffered damage and cracks in the previous quakes crumbled, along with towers.

Amatrice, the town that bore the brunt of destruction on Aug. 24, sustained blows to treasures that had withstood the quakes of the past weeks.

The community’s medieval bell tower stood tall amid the rubble after the August quake, becoming a symbol of hope and resilience for the stricken population. During a visit to the quake zone earlier this month, the pope prayed alone amid the rubble, the brick tower still standing in the background. But the latest shaking partially collapsed it. The 15th century Church of Sant’Agostino also fell down.

“The monster is still there,” Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told Sky TG24.

The quake was felt as far north as Salzburg, Austria, and all the way down the Italian peninsula to the Puglia region, the heel of the boot. In Rome, some 150 kilometers (95 miles) away, people rushed into the streets in pajamas.

The basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, a site of Christian worship in Rome since the 4th century, had to be closed for inspections after sustaining cracks and damage to some molding. There were also cracks in the cupola of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza church in Rome, a baroque masterpiece by Francesco Borromini, an architectural giant of the 17th century.

The quake forced the temporary closure of some of Rome’s most important tourist sites, including the presidential palace, so authorities could check for damage.

The crowds in St. Peter’s Square interrupted Pope Francis with applause when he mentioned the quake during his weekly Sunday blessing.

“I’m praying for the injured and the families who have suffered the most damage, as well as for rescue and first aid workers,” he said.

ANSA reported that the quake damaged the church of St. Joseph in Jesi, a town encircled by medieval walls southwest of the coastal city of Ancona. The roof caved in partially and cracks appeared near the altar.

In Tolentino, there was visible damage to the Cathedral of San Catervo and the Basilica of St. Nicolas, which contains artwork and architectural elements dating from the 14th to the 17th centuries.

With a preliminary magnitude of 6.6, it was the strongest earthquake since a 6.9 temblor near Naples killed some 3,000 people on Nov. 23, 1980.

Some 20 people suffered mostly minor injuries. Authorities responded with helicopters to help the injured and monitor collapses, as many roads were blocked by landslides.

The Salaria highway, one of the main highways in the region, was closed at certain points. Some local rail lines in Umbria and Le Marche were also closed as a precaution.

Seismologists said the shaking came from a series of faults in the Apennines, and they could not rule out more, possibly stronger quakes in the near future.

“It is normal for the Apennines,” said the president of Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology, Carlo Doglioni. He cited a similar sequence of three events within a period of months in 1703 in the region.

Natural law dictates that after such an event there will be more quakes, “which means we can expect some 5 magnitude quakes and many of magnitude 4,” Doglioni said.

Already on Sunday, more than 200 other seismic events were recorded by the institute, including 15 temblors between magnitude 4 and 5.


Barry reported from Milan and Gera from Warsaw, Poland.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-30/urgent-italy-hit-by-strongest-quake-in-35-years-no-deaths-reported

Carney Backed by U.K. Business Secretary Amid Resignation Talk

U.K. Business Secretary Greg Clark backed Mark Carney to stay in his job after newspaper reports that the Bank of England governor may announce within the next few days that hes stepping down.

I think Mark Carney has done a tremendous job, a fantastic job during his tenure, Clark told BBC Televisions Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. I was the financial secretary to the Treasury when he was appointed, and I think it was a brilliant appointment.

Greg Clark
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Speaking to a House of Lords committee on Tuesday, Carney deflected questions on whether he plans to service out a full eight-year term as governor through to 2021, saying its an entirely personal decision that wont be a reflection on U.K. government policy. Hes pledged to clarify his stance by the end of the year.

Prime Minister Theresa May is keen for Carney to stay on and has sought to smooth over misunderstandings with him, including criticism of loose monetary policy in a speech at her Conservative Party conference at the start of this month, according to officials. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has publicly said hed welcome Carney staying on.

Still, the governor has been the target of attacks by prominent Tories who have criticized him for keeping interest rates low and of inappropriately siding with the Remain campaign in the run-up to the June 23 Brexit referendum. Iain Duncan Smith, Nigel Lawson, William Hague, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove have all publicly chastised the Canadian-born governor, with some even saying he should step down.

Both the Times and Mail Online reported on Saturday that Carney may announce a decision within days. The Bank of England declined to comment on the reports.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-30/carney-backed-by-u-k-business-secretary-amid-resignation-talk

Battle of Billionaires as Philippines’ Richest Man Joins Chase for Manila Airport Project

The Philippines richest man has joined a contest to build a new airport near Manila, breathing life into the long-delayed project and drawing an immediate response from fellow billionaire and competitor Ramon Ang.

Ramon Ang
Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Belle Corp., part of Henry Sys SM Group, will become an almost equal partner in Solar Group-led All-Asia Resources & Reclamation Corp.s $20 billion proposal to construct an airport and seaport, said Edmundo Lim, the ventures vice chairman. While he declined to specify how much Belle would invest, he added that China Communications Construction Co.s dredging unit is set to be both an investor and technical partner. Ang, after being told of Sys proposal, said in a text message that its now going to be a beauty contest.”

All-Asia plans to reclaim 2,500 hectares (6,180 acres) of land near a naval and air base at Sangley Point, south of Manila, as the Philippine capital struggles to cope with a rising number of flights and increasing road traffic. The proposal competes with Angs San Miguel Corp., which offered to build an alternative airport two years ago. While talk of a second airport has been around for years, President Rodrigo Dutertes new government has vowed to boost spending on infrastructure and speed up projects.

Sys interest is an indication of this projects potential returns and we could see more interest from other big business groups, said Manila-based Astro del Castillo, managing director at First Grade Holdings Inc., a financial and investment advisory firm. We will have a fashion show on who can present the best plan. The reputation of an investor is important, particularly in big-ticket projects. The interest in this bidding could draw attention to other government infrastructure projects.

Two Billionaires

Henry Sy
Photographer: Nana Buxani/Bloomberg

Sy — worth an estimated $14.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — runs businesses including SM Prime Holdings Inc., the nations biggest property company by market value, and BDO Unibank Inc., its largest lender. Solar, owned by the Tieng brothers, has investments in industries such as TV networks, real estate and consumer goods. San Miguel, the countrys largest food and drinks company, has expanded under Ang into non-allied industries, including tollroads and power.

While the International Air Transport Association says Manilas four air terminals have a combined designed capacity of 31 million passengers, government data show that 36.68 million passengers passed through last year. Traffic congestion in Manila and other urban areas cost the Philippines 2.4 billion pesos ($49.4 million) in productivity losses per day, or more than 800 billion pesos a year, according to a bill filed in the Senate to provide Duterte emergency powers to solve the issues.

Traffic Issues

Building a new port and special economic zone will help ease traffic in Manila, home of the nations largest sea-cargo facility, Lim said. Between 6,000 and 7,000 vehicles a day travel between the Manila port and industrial sites, he said. The airport is also used by about 40,000 vehicles a day. This is such a big project, and we need big muscles, Lim said in a phone interview, adding that his company is open to other partners.

In his beauty contest” text message, Ang said that San Miguel has offered to build the new airport in Bulacan, north of Manila, in a revision from its 2014 proposal for a $10 billion airport on reclaimed land in Manila Bay.

Cora Guidote, senior vice president at Sys SM Investments Corp., which has shares in Belle, declined to comment in a text message.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-30/battle-of-billionaires-brews-as-sy-joins-manila-airport-chase

Private-Jet Forecast Cut by 600 Planes as Slow Growth Zaps Sales

Business-jet deliveries are dropping and wont rebound before 2018, according to a benchmark forecast of corporate aircraft demand over the next decade.

Honeywell International Inc. lowered its annual long-term forecast for private jets by 7 percent, or 600 aircraft, as emerging markets suffer from low commodity prices and the U.S. economy limps along at a slow pace.

As many as 8,600 new planes are expected to be delivered from 2016 through 2026, down from 9,200 in last years outlook, according to a survey of more than 1,500 business-jet operators worldwide. Sales of those aircraft are estimated at $255 billion, down from $270 billion in the previous study.

We have a fair amount of uncertainty and instability in the economy and political environment around the world right now, said Charles Park, director of market analysis at Honeywells aerospace unit.

The number of used jets for sale that are less than five years old has increased and prices continue to drop, which drags on demand for new aircraft, Park said. The introduction of new models from manufacturers such as Gulfstream and Bombardier Inc. in 2018 should stimulate sales, he said.

Cutting Back

Those planemakers have announced production cuts for some models that eventually will help stem supply in the market and reduce the drop in used-jet prices, said Shawn Vick, chairman of Global Jet Capital, which finances aircraft purchases and is backed by Blackstone Group, Franklin Square Capital Partners and the Carlyle Group. Although it will take time for the lower output to affect the market, Vick said hes starting to see some pockets of value stabilization.

Were clearly in an environment where there has been oversupply, said Vick, whose company agreed last year to buy General Electric Co.s corporate-jet-financing business and expects to underwrite $500 million of aircraft purchases this year. Its the right course of action.

Over the next five years, North America is expected to garner 65 percent of jet purchases, up from 61 percent in last years survey, while Europes share is set to remain unchanged at 14 percent, Honeywell said. Asias share will increase to as much as 6 percent from 4 percent and the Middle East will be less than 4 percent, falling short of its historical range of 4 percent to 7 percent.

Latin Americas estimated share over the next five years will fall to 12 percent from 18 percent last year as sales cool in Mexico and Venezuela, Park said. Pent-up demand in Brazil will boost purchases in that country over the period, Park said.

2018 Rebound

Worldwide business-jet deliveries will decline to 645 this year and to 625 next year before rebounding back to 645 in 2018, according to a report by Seth Seifman, an analyst with JPMorgan Chase & Co. Deliveries had increased in 2014 to 689 and remained the same last year. They hit an all-time high of 1,136 in 2008.

Not everyone sees gloom in the private-jet market. Business for Directional Aviation, which owns the fractional operator Flexjet, is up about 15 percent from last year and profit will increase more than that.

People are flying, said Kenn Ricci, principal of Directional. Excuse me for not commiserating with my manufacturer friends, but that helps us because we get better deals on airplanes.

Flexjet increased its order for Bombardier Challenger 350s to 40 last year. A year earlier, the company agreed to purchase 50 Gulfstream jets manufactured by General Dynamics Corp., including a G650 that will be delivered this year. It also is taking deliveries of Legacy 450s made by Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA.

In the end, it will take faster economic growth to rev up sales of new business jets. The need for flying privately increases when companies are growing quickly and executives must travel to multiple cities in a hurry, Vick said.

People are going to be very, very certain that marketplaces are there before they double-down and expand rapidly, Vick said. Thats the mode that everybody is in and I think its appropriate.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-30/private-jet-forecast-cut-by-600-planes-as-slow-growth-zaps-sales

Big Oils Shrinking Act Has More to Go in China

Chinas oil output slump shows no signs of abating as the countrys state-run energy giants hold back spending to cope with the crash in prices.

Chinas Big Three producers, led by PetroChina Co., have spent about half of their 2016 capital-expenditure targets in the first nine months of the year, according to operational data released last week by the companies. Their domestic crude output has slumped 6 percent over that period amid the cutbacks, Bloomberg calculations show. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec, has seen the largest production declines and spent the least so far this year.

Low crude prices led to lower spending, and lower spending caused the lower output, said Tian Miao, a Beijing-based analyst at North Square Blue Oak Ltd. The only thing that can change the game is a substantial rebound in crude prices.

While output drops, crude imports have surged to all-time highs as the countrys refineries are on track to process a record amount of crude this year and the government takes advantage of the slump in prices to fill emergency stockpiles. China edged past the U.S. last month as the worlds biggest importer and the country has relied on overseas supplies for 65 percent of its needs this year, a record ratio, according to analysts at consultant ICIS China.

The Chinese government has no problem with reduced domestic crude production as long as crude imports can be guaranteed, Tian said. The national duty of the Big Three in a low-crude environment is more about securing imports than producing at a loss.

PetroChina shares in Hong Kong dropped 1.3 percent to HK$5.31 as of 9:34 a.m local time Monday, while Sinopec gained 0.4 percent and Cnooc Ltd., the countrys biggest offshore oil explorer, shed 1.3 percent. Hong Kongs benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.7 percent.

PetroChina on Friday said net income during the first nine months of the year fell 94 percent to 1.73 billion yuan. Full-year results are expected to decrease substantially from 2015, it said in a statement.

Sinopec said Thursday profit rose 11 percent over the period as the worlds biggest oil refiner benefited from lower crude costs for its fuel-making business. Cnooc, which doesnt release quarterly net income, reported Wednesday a 15 percent fall in third-quarter sales.

Significantly Underspend

Sinopec has spent about 25 billion yuan in the first nine months of the year, down a third from same period last year and a quarter of its 100.4 billion yuan target. Domestic crude output during that period is down 14 percent. The company may consider buying overseas assets or stakes in other projects, Chairman Wang Yupu said after the half-year results were released in August.

The company is likely to significantly underspend the full-year budget, Neil Beveridge, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in a research note after the company released quarterly earnings last week.

PetroChina has spent 114 billion yuan in the first nine months of the year, down 23 percent from the same period a year ago. The company said in March that it was targeting a 5 percent decline in capital spending to 192 billion yuan.

Cnooc has reached slightly more than half its full year target in the first three quarters. The offshore explorer intends to keep its 60 billion yuan spending cap this year, Chief Financial Officer Zhong Hua said in a conference call after the sales figures were released Wednesday. Having spent just 33.7 billion yuan in the first nine months, Cnooc will try to spend more in the last three months on improving output and preparing for new projects, he said.

Chinas total crude output fell 6.1 percent in the first nine months of the year. Production can stabilize with prices around $50 a barrel and may not rebound until they are above $60, Bernsteins Beveridge said earlier this month. Production from the Big Three in the third quarter slipped by 9 percent from the same period last year, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-30/big-oil-s-shrinking-act-has-more-to-go-in-china-as-spending-lags

Glossy Figures Mask Fiscal Skid as Turkey Prepares to Spend

Turkeys plan to increase spending to escape an economic slowdown is bringing its public finances under closer scrutiny, with the governments own data painting two very different pictures of fiscal health.

A primary budget surplus reported by the finance ministry — and lauded by investors and ratings companies — turns to a deficit when calculated by the Turkish Treasury using International Monetary Fund standards. The gap between the two reached a record 37.1 billion liras ($11.9 billion) in August. The primary budget balance is the difference between spending and revenue, excluding interest payments.

The discrepancy has gained significance since Turkey announced a medium-term spending plan that, using IMF accounting, rules out a primary budget surplus until at least 2019. It also points to the real fiscal damage caused by four recent elections, officials growing inability to collect taxes and the economic slowdown since Julys failed coup attempt.

While its not uncommon for countries to use two reporting methods, the size of the gap means the finance ministrys figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, said Wolf-Fabian Hungerland, an economist at Berenberg Bank in Berlin. The bottom line is that the Turkish government is overly optimistic about the future of the economy, about the budget as well as growth.

Finance ministry figures suggest that revenue has consistently exceeded ex-interest outlays over the past decade, and its this official account of balanced budgets and low public debt that has held sway.

But the ministry includes privatization income or dividends from state-owned companies including the central bank, items that the IMF regards as one-time in nature and therefore excludes. Treasury calculations using IMF standards show a much smaller surplus for most of the decade, which turned to a deficit on an annualized basis in the second quarter.

Structural Deterioration

The data show an ever-increasing reliance on one-off, non-recurrent revenue, like privatizations and central bank profits, which corresponds to a structural deterioration in the underlying fiscal position, said Murat Ucer, an Istanbul-based economist at Global Source Partners Inc.

Evidence of fiscal fragility also appears in Turkeys sustainable balance, a measure used by some economists to assess the governments ability to maintain spending with its most basic income — taxes. The annualized shortfall between the two — with interest payments excluded — widened to more than 60 billion liras in the second quarter, according to a Bloomberg calculation, the biggest gap in absolute terms in data spanning a decade.

The government collected just over 70 percent of owed taxes during the first eight months of 2016 — the annual average over the past decade is 86 percent — as slower growth led to more business and households falling behind on payments. Officials have also announced tax amnesties almost yearly since the global financial crisis.

Whats troubling here is the rising trend in ex-interest spending, said Haluk Burumcekci, founder of Istanbul-based Burumcekci Consulting, adding that the government has been able to avoid large budget deficits by sourcing additional one-time income.

Even so, Turkeys ratio of public debt to gross domestic product is expected to improve to around 32.8 percent by year-end from nearly 60 percent a decade ago, comparing favorably with other emerging markets. India, for example, had a ratio of just over 52 percent last year.

Peer Group

Similarly, economists forecast Turkeys budget deficit will be 2.2 percent of GDP this year, compared with an average 3.3 percent for G-20 countries. The Turkish governments own forecast is for a smaller shortfall of 1.6 percent.

We cant talk about a major risk at this point, said Maya Senussi, an analyst at Roubini Global Economics.

Finance Minister Naci Agbal has said the government remains committed to fiscal discipline, while acknowledging that higher spending and lower tax revenue had forced it to forecast budget deficits. His office didnt respond to questions on the sustainability of the strategy.

Finance ministry forecasts show a primary budget surplus every year, with the IMF method showing a deficit this year and next, and a balance in 2018. For the overall budget, the finance ministry expects a deficit until at least 2019.

Turkey reported a budget deficit of 16.9 billion liras in September — a record outside of the typical deficit month of December, when the government settles its full-year payments.

A mistake in fiscal policy may take a long time to fix — extra caution is warranted and an unsustainable budget policy should be avoided, said Sakir Turan, an Istanbul-based economist at Odeabank AS.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-10-30/glossy-figures-mask-fiscal-skid-as-turkey-prepares-to-spend

Powerful quake spares lives, but strikes at Italy’s identity

The third powerful earthquake to hit Italy in two months spared human life Sunday but struck at the nation’s identity, destroying a Benedictine cathedral, a medieval tower and other beloved landmarks that had survived the earlier jolts across a mountainous region of small historic towns.

Lost or severely damaged in the shaking were ancient Roman walls, Gothic and Baroque churches and centuries-old paintings crushed beneath tons of brick, sandstone and marble.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said the nation’s “soul is disturbed” by the series of quakes, starting with the deadly Aug. 24 event that killed nearly 300 people, two back-to-back temblors on Oct. 26, and the biggest of them all, a 6.6-magnitude quake that shook people out of bed Sunday morning. It was the strongest quake to hit Italy in 36 years.

There were no reports of fatalities a fact attributed to the evacuation of sensitive areas and fragile city centers. Nearly 8,000 people have been moved to shelters or hotels following the quakes last week and Sunday, and Italy’s Civil Protection agency was expecting that number to reach 11,000 by Monday morning. Many who stayed behind were sleeping in campers or other vehicles, out of harm’s way.

Renzi vowed to rebuild houses, churches and business, saying, “a piece of Italian identity is at stake at this moment.”

“Feeling the earth collapse beneath your feet is not a metaphorical expression but is what happened this morning, and half of Italy felt this,” Renzi said.

The quake struck another painful blow to the rich artistic heritage of villages that dot the Apennine Mountains.

More on this…

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/10/30/powerful-quake-spares-lives-but-strikes-at-italys-identity.html

Putting the fun back into fitness – BBC News

Image copyright Charlotte Roach
Image caption Charlotte Roach returned to competitive athletics after her accident

No pain, no gain. It’s a mantra to push exhausted runners through that extra mile or swimmers down one last length of the pool.

It’ll all be worth it, won’t it? It’s a theory Charlotte Roach tested to its limits – and rejected.

The former Olympic hopeful, whose chance of going to the London 2012 Games was ended after a near-fatal cycling accident, says people too often hate their fitness routines. But it doesn’t have to be that way, she insists.

Roach, 27, says the fitness industry has been selling pain, and repetitive and isolating exercise – and making people feel guilty if they didn’t shape up.

So she founded Rabble, a business that extols the virtues of getting fit by having fun – from playground games such as British Bulldog and Stuck in the Mud, to Frisbee and dodgeball.

Players sign up online, paying monthly or for one-off events.

Rabble’s aim is summed up in the name. “We’re a rowdy, energetic community, disrupting the fitness community and bringing some fun to an unnecessarily dull industry,” says Roach.

Image caption Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes (centre), seen here during a Sport Relief event, is a fan of exercise through social interaction

The company’s success would seem to reflect fundamental changes in attitudes to fitness, underlined by the growth of social exercising via such activities as Zumba and outdoor activities like military boot camps. People want to get fit – but not necessarily in a gym.

Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, who mentored Roach as a young athlete, is a fan. “You forget you’re exercising,” she told the BBC. “If you can promote social interaction through physical activity, people see the fun, and in turn show commitment to more regular exercise.”

Horrific injuries

But Rabble would never have happened if Roach hadn’t suffered her accident.

“I was in my second year at Cambridge University, running and swimming competitively, and was invited to join the training programme for the Olympic 2012 triathlon squad,” says Roach. She left Cambridge for the Loughborough training base.

But in 2009, during a group cycling event, her life changed.

“A Land Rover travelling in the opposite direction hit me,” she says. “All I could feel was pain. My back was in agony, I was struggling to breathe.”

A passing motorist stopped to help. Luckily, it was Julie Hayton, a physiotherapist with Leicester Tigers rugby team and trained in resuscitation.

“I was gargling blood and Julie, realising I had a short window to survive, sat me up. It was risky, I could have been paralysed due to my back injury but it saved my life,” Roach says.

Image copyright Charlotte Roach
Image caption Charlotte’s back is held together with the help of pins

Roach had sustained horrific injuries. Both lungs collapsed, her back was broken in 12 places along with her collarbone and ribs. She spent a week in intensive care.

Roach recalls the frustration of being inactive, but within a few months forced herself back into training, still with pins in her back.

“I could feel the metalwork jarring when I ran and I had some nasty spasms,” she says. “Looking back I don’t know how I did it, but I guess deep down I wanted to prove to myself that I could still race.”

Incredibly, in 2010 Roach came fourth in the European Cup, competing for Great Britain. But the training eventually became too much, and she returned to Cambridge to finish her neuroscience degree.

Bored at the gym

After university, Chester-born Roach worked for a construction company in London. She enjoyed the challenge, and working on a variety of different projects kept the boredom at bay.

But after work, Roach went to the pub more than the gym. “Without a goal I found the gym boring,” she says. “I didn’t see the point of sweating with a group of silent strangers in spinning classes. It just felt weird.

“I wanted to meet up with a group at times that suited us, and do something active and fun.”

Image copyright Matt Kaltenborn
Image copyright Matt Kaltenborn

The idea for Rabble was born. Roach quit her job and ploughed her savings into the business. “I decided to live off fear,” she says.

She organised the first Rabble game, in January 2014, on social events site Meet Up and 15 participants turned up to their hired basketball court.

‘Breath of fresh air’

Initially, events were free, to gauge popularity. “By the end of 2014 we had 150 players a month. The money was running out, but the games were going well so I applied for funding,” she says.

Through angel investors and money from Cambridge University’s Downing Enterprise start-up competition, Roach raised 210,000.

One investor, John Yeomans, chairman of Cambridge Angels, normally backs tech start-ups. But he was “blown away” by her business presentation.

“She was a breath of fresh air,” he says. “An investor wants to know that the person they’re investing in has vision and determination. Charlotte clearly had both in abundance.”

And her athletic background was important. “Top athletes often make good entrepreneurs; they’re determined, persistent and will push,” Mr Yeomans says.

Image copyright Christine Roach
Image caption Charlotte, number 7, at an athletics meeting in Birmingham

He initially invested 10,000, subsequently topping up his funding twice.

Roach says Rabble is on track to make its first profit in 2017. There are currently around 850 players across several UK cities and its popularity is catching on fast. There are big expansion plans, possibly by franchising the operation.

“Rabble isn’t for everyone,” she admits. “But we want to make exercise accessible, especially for adults who haven’t necessarily been sporty before.”

It’s an approach supported by sports psychologists.

Middlesex University’s Dr Rhonda Cohen, author of Sport Psychology: The Basics, says: “Exercise as play captures the essence of who you were as a child. That spirit of freedom and fun is a useful way of motivating people into doing exercise.”

Ray Algar, founder of Oxygen Consulting, which advises the fitness industry, thinks established gym brands are recognising the growth potential of firms like Rabble. Pure Gym, for example, has partnered with boot camp group British Military Fitness.

“I recently spoke to a Zumba class, asking them why they went. One person said, ‘Because it makes me feel fabulous.’ This is the antithesis of gyms, which seem to have the mantra that fitness is hard work.”

There is an alternative, says Roach, and it’s emblazoned across Rabble’s website. “Stop exercising, start playing.”

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37727456

What happens if there’s a cyberattack on Election Day?

Image: Ambar Del Moral/Mashable

As Election Day approaches, tension is rising. Schools are canceling classes. Investors are waiting cautiously. Law enforcement is on alert for violence at polling locations. And when what seemed like half the internet shut down last week, fear of a large-scale cyberattack joined that list.

Sam Altman, president of the start-up accelerator Y Combinator, was one of many to ask the question: Is the U.S. about to be on the receiving end of a major attack timed for the election?

“That attack on Dyn felt to me like a warm-up to something or a practice run,” Altman told Mashable. “Like someone going after something very specific.”

Following the attack, concerns about a massive effort to disrupt the internet on Election Day started to percolate in the tech community. The attack came in an election season in which cybersecurity has been an underlying concern thanks to hacking attributed to Russia.

The Dyn attack, though different from the hacks that ended up making public massive amounts of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign emails, only added to the broader fears. The FBI has warned state election boards to be on alert though they may be powerless to do much about significant attacks.

Cybersecurity experts that spoke with Mashable, however, were not particularly worried about large-scale attacks directed at the internet itself. They could not, however, rule anything out.

Rock the vote

Most components of US Election Day infrastructure don’t rely on the internet, so an attack wouldn’t directly impact actual votes. But if the internet were down, people wouldn’t be able to look up polling place locations or other voting information. A widespread cyberattack could cause fear about exactly what’s going on on Election Day and even sway some voters to stay home.

According to Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University who studies the security of electronic voting systems, voting machines are never connected to the internet. Voter registration databases will mostly be printed out by Election Day, but counties that allow voting in more than one polling place and use electronic voter registration information could be affected.

Media reports of election results, of course, could be knocked out of commission by a DDoS attack. And last-minute get out the vote efforts would definitely be disrupted by a cyberattack.

“That kind of attack would dramatically disrupt get out the vote efforts,” Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Mashable.

Expect the worst

There are cyberattacks every day. They just usually aren’t as effective as the one that took out access to several major websites and services last Friday.

Widespread problems with websites including Spotify, Netflix and Twitter, were the result of a DDoS or “distributed denial of service” attack against the domain name system host Dyn.

Unidentified hackers used 100,000 devices to overwhelm Dyn’s DNS systems. By overwhelming Dyn with traffic from what were likely poorly protected devices like connected TVs and DVRs, hackers were able to prevent people from accessing any website that relied on Dyn’s DNS services.

DDoS attacks are relatively simple and only require massive scale, not complex skill. Since the attacks don’t need to target only one website and can instead take down huge swaths of the internet, they’re pretty scary on a day as big as Nov. 8.

“We see new levels of attacks, new zero days, new strains every day,” Dale Drew, chief security officer for the internet service provider Level 3 Communications, told Mashable. “We have been trained to expect the worst case scenario every time we see an attack.”

Learning from the past

Last week’s cyberattack primarily affected the East Coast. Another attack could be geographically based, or cover a wider range. That doesn’t mean it won’t be as effective the next time around.

Companies like Dyn face cyberattacks every day. Most are fended off, or don’t affect as many clients and people as last week’s. In the aftermath of this attack, clients who use one DNS provider have already added a second or ramped up their security in other ways, Hall said.

If anything, the chances of a similar attack on Election Day are lower, Hall said.

“No one seriously going to use that to disrupt or attack elections would have done something so blatant and so public,” Hall said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the recent cyberattack, but security experts know that it came from a bot net using the base code Mirai. The hackers behind the bot net were likely displaying the net’s power to anyone interested in its services for hire, Hall said. He thought it unlikely the same group would try another attack so soon afterward.

Still, people are worried. Ahead of one of the most tense days in American history, cybersecurity experts advised clients of DNS providers to widen their security options.

Dyn is preparing for future attacks whether or not they fall on Election Day.

“As you may imagine, we cannot predict future DDoS attacks,” Dyn spokesman Adam Coughlin told Mashable. “We have learned a great deal from the recent attack and very quickly put protective measures in place during the attack, and we are extending and scaling those measures aggressively.Additionally, Dyn has been active in discussions with internet infrastructure providers to share learnings and mitigation methods for future attacks.”

And people at home whose devices might have been part of the attack without their knowledge should check exactly what they have plugged in before they head out to the polls.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/29/election-day-cyberattack/