Cenovus Energy Inc sells oil and gas royalty business to Ontario Teachers

TORONTO — The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan says it has an agreement with Cenovus Energy Inc. to acquire Cenovus’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Heritage Royalty Limited Partnership, in a deal worth about $3.3 billion.Calgary-based Heritage Royalty holds a broad portfolio of oil and gas royalties in Western Canada. It holds about 4.8 million acres of royalty and mineral fee title lands in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Cenovus said Tuesday in a statement. These generate revenue from drilling by other companies.“The proceeds from this sale will strengthen our balance sheet and provide us with greater resilience during these uncertain times as well as the flexibility to invest in organic projects with strong returns,” Cenovus Chief Executive Officer Brian Ferguson said in the statement.The pension plan says the deal, led by Teachers’ Natural Resources Group, is expected to close by the end of July once it receives the customary regulatory approvals.The decision to monetize the properties comes after the dramatic drop in oil prices since last year. The Calgary-based company raised $1.5 billion in a share sale in February as it sought to weather the slump. Since then it has considered several options to boost value from the royalty business, including a potential initial public offering of the unit.The sale to Ontario Teachers’ is set to improve Cenovus’s ratio of net debt to capitalization, which was 27 per cent at the end of the first quarter, according to the statement.Cenovus Energy Inc confirms talks about sale of assets, but silent on buyer’s identityOilsands sector remains strong despite political, economic doom and gloom, report saysHeritage Royalty had revenues of approximately $320 million in 2014 based on average production of approximately 14,800 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The Calgary-based company owns one of the largest packages of fee title acreage in Canada — about 4.8 million acres in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.The acreage is bigger than analysts had been expecting and it includes added royalties, including from the Pelican Lake project. Michael Dunn of FirstEnergy Capital Corp. estimated earlier this month that a value of as much as C$3 billion wouldn’t be unreasonable.Teachers’ created Natural Resources Group in 2013 to manage assets that include timberland, agriculture and oil and gas. With $154.5 billion in net assets as of Dec. 31, 2014, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada.Cenovus Energy had confirmed on June 19 that it was in talks about the potential sale of royalty lands but provided no details.With files from Bloomberg read more

Standard and Poors cuts Saskatchewan credit rating cites low commodity prices

REGINA — Weak commodity prices and higher government capital spending have prompted Standard and Poor’s to downgrade Saskatchewan’s credit rating.The agency says it has lowered the rating to double-A from double-A plus.Standard and Poor’s says the downgrade reflects Saskatchewan’s weakened budget performance and growing debt thanks to low oil, natural gas and potash prices.The agency says despite some tax reforms and cuts in the government’s recent budget, the province’s position is now weaker than it was last year.It also cites higher spending plans under the Saskatchewan Builds Capital Program.On the upside, Standard and Poor’s says the outlook for the province is stable and forecasts the economy will record modest growth in the next two years.“Weaker commodity prices and elevated capital spending are negatively affecting the Province of Saskatchewan’s budgetary performance and debt burden,” the agency said Wednesday.“S&P Global Ratings lowered its long-term issuer credit and senior unsecured debts ratings on the province … to ‘AA’ from ‘AA+”.At the same time the agency affirmed its ‘A-1+’ global scale and ‘A-1 (High)’ Canada scale short-term debt ratings on the province.This is the second time the agency has cut Saskatchewan’s credit rating over the past 12 months.Last June, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the province’s credit rating from triple-A to double-A plus due to low resource prices.Credit ratings can affect how much a government pays to borrow money. read more

Markets update at midmorning

On the markets at midmorning (ET):The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 34.89 points to 15,161.70, after 90 minutes of trading.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 7.06 points to 22,165.24. The S&P 500 index was down 2.61 points to 2,495.76 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 13.37 points to 6,446.82.The Canadian dollar was trading at 82.02 cents US, down from Wednesday’s average price of 82.05 cents US.The October crude contract was up 93 cents to US$50.23 per barrel and the October natural gas contract was up three cents to US$3.09 per mmBTU.The December gold contract was up $1.40 at US$1,329.40 an ounce and the December copper contract was down two cents to US$2.96 a pound.

CBK says inequality breeds terrorism

Boko Haram Islamists have killed hundreds in Africa’s most populous country since 2009, with analysts arguing that crippling poverty in the mainly Muslim north is underlying much of the violence. Sri Lanka’s 1972-2009 war with Tamil rebels claimed more than 100,000 lives, according to UN estimates.In Nigeria, aside from Boko Haram’s campaign, clashes linked to ethnic and religious divides have killed thousands in Nigeria in recent years. (AFP) “The continued existence of inequality gives rise to violence and even terrorism,” she added. Kumaratunga was invited to speak by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, an independent think-tank that hosts an annual lecture by a prominent world leader.She urged Nigeria, roughly split between Muslims and Christians and with some 250 ethnic groups, to “celebrate” diversity, adding that she had made efforts to reach out to members of the minority Tamil ethnic group while in power. Sri Lanka’s former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga warned that inequality can fuel “terrorism” during a speech in Nigeria, a country grappling with a deadly Islamist insurgency.“Poverty, socio-political injustices cause frustration and anger among the marginalised groups,” said the Sri Lankan leader, who led the south Asian nation from 1994 to 2005. read more

MR accuses US EU of backing regime change

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today accused the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) of backing regime change in Sri Lanka.Rajapaksa said that the US, EU and Britain had often accused his Government of human rights abuses but are blind to the abuses being conducted by the new Government. “When we did things they accused us,” Rajapaksa said.He said that under his Government a Chief Justice was removed by conducting investigations and obtaining Parliament support while in the case of Mohan Peiris, his office was taken over and he was forced to resign. Rajapaksa also said that Sri Lanka Freedom Party members have become the target of revenge acts by the Government.He also refuted allegations made by the Government that he is one of the most richest people around and that he had made money when he was in power.The former President said that the pro-LTTE diaspora is also involved in some of the unlawful acts being committed against him, his family and members of the former Government. He says the removal of former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris by the new Government was undemocratic but yet the West is silent on the matter. “They wanted regime change. Once they put us aside they are very happy,” the former President said at an event in Ampara. He says the diaspora promised to take revenge on him for defeating the LTTE six years ago and they are doing that by using the Government which is now in power. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Fugitive gangster with LTTE links detained in Singapore

Fugitive gangster Kumar Pillai, who is wanted in Mumbai for several cases of murder and extortion and who has also been linked to the LTTE, has been detained by the Singapore authorities.A senior Crime Branch official said Pillai of the infamous Kumar Pillai gang was taken into custody after a Red Corner Notice was issued by Interpol, the Indian Express reported. “Pillai had very close ties (with LTTE). In fact, there was this one case where he threw bombs at police officers for the LTTE. He is wanted in several cases and still has a few of his gang members in the city,” said the senior officer.Given Pillai’s alleged proximity to LTTE, the officer said, investigators always suspected Pillai to be holed up in the UK, Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka or Singapore, which have a sizeable Tamil population. (Colombo Gazette) “We are in the process of verifying the identity of the person. Once we get confirmation, we will proceed and provide all details of the cases, which is a procedural aspect for extradition,” said an officer who did not wish to be named. According to another source, Pillai is believed to have been living under a false identity and was arrested at the airport. Pillai’s stronghold used to be Vikhroli, where he mostly operated in the construction industry. A senior police officer recalled Pillai’s close association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). read more

EX LTTE negotiator wants Tamil Nadu polls to focus on Eelam

Rudrakumaran, who heads the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), said that the Tamil National liberation struggle is now facing a challenging situation as efforts are afoot to impose a Sinhala State-determined unitary state structure on the Tamils in the name of a political solution to the Tamil national question. “It is also our steadfast belief that the people of Tamil Nadu would keep in mind the liberation of the people of Tamil Eelam as an important factor at the time of voting,” he said. Former LTTE negotiator Viswanathan Rudrakumaran has urged political parties in Tamil Nadu to focus their campaigns at the Assembly elections next month to create a Tamil Eelam State in Sri Lanka.Rudrakumaran says political parties of Tamil Nadu must take positions that go to strengthen the struggle of the Eelam Tamil people for their rights, in their Election Manifestos for the forthcoming Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Elections to be held on the 16th of May. Rudrakumaran says the people of Tamil Nadu should take in their own hands the political struggle of the Eelam Tamil people.He also noted that if India shifts its stand, there would emerge an international situation in favour of the people of Tamil Eelam. (Colombo Gazette) “A few strong States in the international community can be seen at present to be aiding and abetting this unjust procedure on the basis of their own interests. The desire of those States in the international arena is the meeting of their own interests through good relations with the Sinhala nation and the Sri Lankan state instead of relating on the basis of justice with the Eelam Tamil nation with its small population. The same holds true of the Government of India as well,” he said.He said that in order to effect a change in this situation, it is imperative for the people of Tamil Nadu to resolutely join hands with the people of Tamil Eelam. read more

Unexploded bomb from jet found in Kilinochchi

An unexploded bomb from an Air Force fighter jet was found in Kilinochchi.The bomb was believed to have been dropped in a jungle area in Dharmapuram in Kilinochchi during the war. The bomb was discovered by area residents who had later informed the police.The police Special Task Force (STF) removed the bomb from the area. (Colombo Gazette)

Police fire teargas on antiSAITM protest

The police fired tear-gas on an anti-SAITM protest staged in Fort today.The protest was staged by the Inter University Student’s Federation (IUSF). The police used tear-gas and water cannons as the protesters attempted to forcibly enter the Presidential Secretariat.As series of protests have been staged against the SAITM Malabe campus over the past few weeks. (Colombo Gazette)

Contract train drivers who did not report to work to be fired

All train drivers employed on a contract basis, who did not report to work today are to be fired.The Department of Railways said that railway guards employed on contract basis will also suffer the same fate. The Department of Railways has decided to consider train drivers and railway guards employed on contract basis, who did not report to work today, as having vacated their posts.The move follows a protest staged by railway unions today.

Thai airport officials arrest Sri Lankan man with fake passport

“He was about to board a Kuwait Airlines’ plane to fly to Paris via Kuwait City,” he told Bernama, adding that investigations revealed the Sri Lankan man entered Thailand through Betong in Yala province, southern Thailand on September 13. According to the suspect , he bought the fake passport from an agent in Kuala Lumpur. A 45-year-old Sri Lankan man was arrested in the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand for trying to board a flight to France using a fake Malaysian passport, the Bernama news agency reported.According to the airport’s immigration police commander Col Ploen Klinphayom, the incident happened when the man identified as Pirapu Tharmalingam was at the immigration counter at the international airport. “For Sri Lankan suspects, we found that they usually used Malaysian and Indian fake passports because of their similar facial features,” he said.Airport official made similar arrest several days ago involving a Sri Lankan man using a fake Indian passport, which prompted officials to heighten their surveillance. From Betong, the South Asian man whom the police confirmed was a first time traveller to Thailand with no previous criminal record, boarded a bus to Bangkok and lodged in a hotel in Sukhumvit area throughout his stay in Bangkok.Ploen said, throughout this year his men had managed to arrest 45 suspects mainly from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran and other countries for possession of counterfeit passport. read more

More details of Easter Sunday suicide bombers emerge

Hours later, as police raided their mansion in an exclusive neighbourhood of Colombo, Ilham’s pregnant wife Fatima blew herself up, killing her three children and three officers. The bombers then enter the Table One eatery almost unnoticed while hotel guests are having breakfast before he detonates his deadly weapon.In a split second the plush restaurant becomes a scene of horror as the bomb explodes in a cloud of smoke and bright red flame.The other brother Inshaf blew himself up at the Cinnamon Grand in the wave of almost simultaneous attacks on Sunday morning. Wearing backpacks, the two men appear to discuss their plans in the elevator on the second floor in the final moments before the Easter Sunday massacre. Wearing a light shirt, dark baseball cap and a large backpack, the attacker hesitates – shuffling from foot to foot before detonating his suicide vest at 9.12am.According to the Daily Mail, Inshaf had reportedly checked into the hotel the previous night using a fake name and claiming to be on a business trip.Earlier, footage revealed that his brother Ilham and an accomplice bomber took a lift to the restaurant of the five-star Shangri-La hotel before blowing themselves up. Inshaf (pictured far right at a business awards), 38, lived with his wife and their four children – an eight-year-old daughter and three boys aged six, four and two – in a £1.5million six-bed mansion on one of the most exclusive streets in ColomboCCTV footage has revealed the moment one of the bomber brothers, Inshaf,  nervously shuffling back and forth before deciding to blow himself up at the Cinnamon Grand hotel.The footage from a camera in the hotel’s packed Taprobane restaurant shows the bomber hovering just inches away from diners. Their attacks claimed the lives of at least 41 foreigners, including eight British holidaymakers – three of whom were children. <span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span> Ilham IbrahimAnother bomb tore through a restaurant at the nearby Kingsbury hotel while similar explosions devastated three churches.Authorities investigating the attack, which has killed more than 300 people, have described the heavy backpacks worn by the suicide bombers as ‘crude devices made locally’.Earlier chilling CCTV footage captured one of the suicide bombers patting a little girl on the head moments before he launched his attack at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo.The terrorist can be seen sauntering towards St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo while wearing a large backpack containing a ‘crude device made locally’ that was used to massacre Christian worshippers.It is believed the clip shows the attacker touching the granddaughter of Dilip Fernando, who said: ‘At the end of the mass [my family] saw one young man go into the church in with a heavy bag. He touched my granddaughter’s head on the way past. It was the bomber.’The Ibrahim brothers were at the centre of the little-known but highly organised Islamic State terror cell which detonated six bombs in hotels and churches across Sri Lanka.But while the profile of suicide bombers tends to be of poverty-stricken men with criminal backgrounds, the brothers were the sons of millionaire spice trader Yoonus Ibrahim and were privately educated in Colombo.The pair, who had six other brothers and three sisters, were widely considered to be moderate Muslims who did not hold extreme views.Their pictures, taken from a UN database, were identified by a senior police source as well as their brother-in-law, Ashkhan Alawdeen, several neighbours and staff at Inshaf’s copper factory.Inshaf, 38, lived with his wife and their four children – an eight-year-old daughter and three boys aged six, four and two – in a £1.5million six-bed mansion on one of the most exclusive streets in Colombo.The house, which has its own gym and a fleet of high-end cars, is owned by Inshaf’s brother-in-law Mr Alawdeen, a jewellery trader.Inshaf was a successful businessman and owned a copper factory thought to be where the suicide bombs were made.He was described by relatives and employees as affluent, calm and devout.The father-of-four told his wife that he was flying to Zambia on business on Friday, adding that she should ‘be strong’ before killing himself and multiple others.Around 100 police officers raided the factory in Wellampitiya, on the outskirts of Colombo on Sunday night. They arrested nine staff, including the manager.Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks on its news outlet as it emerged at least one suspect travelled Syria to join the terror group before returning. (Colombo Gazette) More details have emerged on the Easter Sunday suicide bombers with the Daily Mail releasing the first pictures to be made public of two brothers involved in the attacks.Wealthy brothers Inshaf and Ilham Ibrahim calmly walked into the luxury Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand hotels and detonated their vests as guests were eating breakfast. read more