Modern slavery: Inside Atlanta’s fight against sex trafficking

Sky News sees how one US city is tackling the growing problem of children as young as 14 being moved around and sold for sex.

Alainah Beretti weeps as she tells Sky News her story
Image:Alainah Beretti was controlled by a pimp from the age of 17

America has a growing sex trafficking problem and the city of Atlanta has been identified as one of the hotspots.

In this big southern city, a cultural and economic powerhouse, the illegal sex trade is worth about $300m (£230m) a year.

The FBI has also named it as one of the worst places in the US for child sex trafficking.

But the city is finding ways to fight back against this form of modern slavery.

Street outreach worker Kasey McClure showed us the notorious Fulton Industrial Boulevard area.

She pointed out the young women hanging around the garage forecourts and in the doorways of rundown hotels, shadowed by pimps.

Some were visibly pregnant.

Summer, a prostitute in Atlanta, will be made to have sex five or six times a day, an outreach worker told Sky News
Image:Sky News was told the girls are made to have sex five or six times a day

Kasey said that most would be forced to have sex a minimum of five to six times a day.

“They’re getting beat up; we’ve had girls who’ve had all their teeth knocked out,” she said.

“You know, how can they get off the street and get a decent job when they can’t even smile?”

Kasey hands out toiletries and her phone number to girls.

As we drive, a 16-year-old rings from a nearby motel room, desperate for help.

“I don’t have no food, I’m hungry, I haven’t eaten since yesterday,” she pleads.

Kasey organises a safe house quickly, and says it is common for pimps to withhold food until a girl makes them enough cash.

Alainah Beretti  was marketed for sex as a youngster by a pimp called 'Scooby'
Image:Alainah Beretti was marketed for sex as a youngster by a pimp called ‘Scooby’

Sex trafficking survivor Alainah Beretti told us her story.

She was controlled by a pimp from the age of 17.

He took photos of her holding teddy bears and marketed her for sex with men who knew she was young.

She said: “It’s not just sex. You’re opening your soul to every John you sleep with. I’m scarred, and I’ll be scarred for life.”

Atlanta is attractive to traffickers for a number of reasons. One is its thriving adult entertainment industry.

But a small network of former and current strip club employees are trying to make a difference.

Strip club owners are trying to spot girls who may be working against their will
[Source”cnbc”]

Texas bathroom bill appears to be all but dead in special session

Protesters rally in favor of transgender rights at the Texas Capitol, on July 21, 2017.
Protesters rally in favor of transgender rights at the Texas Capitol, on July 21, 2017.

 Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

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Despite it serving, in part, as the reason lawmakers are back in Austin for legislative overtime, the Texas Legislature could very well gavel out next week without passing a “bathroom bill.”

With just days left in the 30-day special legislative session, controversial proposals to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans appear to have no clear path to the governor’s desk. As was the case during the regular legislative session that concluded in May, efforts to pass any sort of bathroom bill — a divisive issue pitting Republicans against business leaders, LGBT advocates, law enforcement and even fellow Republicans — have stalled in the Texas House.

And it’s unlikely that will change in the coming days.

“I’d say the chances are definitely getting smaller,” Republican state Rep. Ron Simmons of Carrollton, who filed two bathroom bills during the special session, said earlier this week.

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The push to keep transgender Texans out of bathrooms that match their gender identity — a move opponents said was discriminatory and could endanger transgender individuals — largely dominated the regular legislative session between protests, lobbying days, two overnight hearings, legislative bickering among Republican leaders over proposed bathroom bills and, eventually, a forced special session.

Restricting bathroom use in public facilities was deemed a legislative priority by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. But House Speaker Joe Straus, with the increased backing of the business community, emerged as his most prominent foil on the issue.

Gov. Greg Abbott — who for months during the regular session was reticent to voice his support for a bathroom bill — eventually took the lieutenant governor’s side and added the issue to his 20-item agenda for a special session that Patrick forced him to call by holding hostage legislation needed to keep open the doors at a handful of state agencies.

But amid concerns for the safety of an already vulnerable population and statewide economic fallout, those efforts did little to sway the speaker.

When lawmakers returned to Austin in July, the Senate quickly passed its latest version of the bill to regulate bathroom use in public schools and local government buildings based on the gender listed on a birth certificate or Texas ID. It would also nix parts of local nondiscrimination ordinances meant to ensure transgender Texans can use public bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Just like during the regular session, Straus has refused to refer that bill to a House committee — the first step in the legislative process.

[Source”cnbc”]

NYPD: Man tries to rape woman in Bronx Walgreens bathroom

Police are searching for the man responsible for a brazen and terrifying sex assault in the Bronx.

Authorities say the suspect attempted to rape a woman in a bathroom inside a Walgreens just before 4 p.m. Thursday.

The incident happened inside the business on White Plains Road in the Wakefield section.

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Police say this man attacked a woman inside a bathroom in the Bronx

According to the NYPD, the 50-year-old victim was approached by the suspect as she was exiting a single-occupancy unisex bathroom.

The man allegedly shoved the victim back inside, pushed her to the ground, covered her mouth and attempted to remove her pants. A store employee heard the victim’s screams for help and pulled the suspect off the victim.

He fled the location on foot northbound on White Plains Road. The victim was treated at Jacobi Hospital.

The suspect is described as a black male in his early to mid 30s, approximately 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, white T-shirt, blue jeans and black and white sneakers.
[Source”cnbc”]

 

Suspect arrested in attempted rape in Bronx Walgreens bathroom

Suspect arrested in attempted rape in Bronx Walgreens bathroom

Police say they have made an arrest in connection with a brazen and terrifying sex assault in the Bronx.

Authorities say the suspect attempted to rape a woman in a bathroom inside a Walgreens just before 4 p.m. Thursday.

28-year-old Victor Augustus is charged with attempted rape, sex abuse, forcible touching, assault and harrassment.

The incident happened inside the business on White Plains Road in the Wakefield section.

Police say this man attacked a woman inside a bathroom in the Bronx

According to the NYPD, the 50-year-old victim was approached by the suspect as she was exiting a single-occupancy unisex bathroom.

The man allegedly shoved the victim back inside, pushed her to the ground, covered her mouth and attempted to remove her pants. A store employee heard the victim’s screams for help and pulled the suspect off the victim.

He fled the location on foot northbound on White Plains Road. The victim was treated at Jacobi Hospital.

[Source”cnbc”]

Dallas Stars 1st Pro Team to Publicly Oppose Texas’ ‘Bathroom Bill’

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  President, CEO and Alternate Governor Jim Lites of the Dallas Stars speaks on the draft floor during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Dallas Stars publicly opposed the Texas “bathroom bill” Wednesday that would require transgender people in Texas to only use bathrooms in schools or government buildings based on their birth-certificate gender.

“The Dallas Stars stands strongly opposed to any legislation perceived as discriminatory, including proposed bathroom legislation,” team president Jim Lites said, per Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News. “Dallas welcomes all, and we welcome all.”

His statement made the Stars the first team to publicly denounce this particular legislation about bathroom use for transgender people. All of the city’s major sports teams appear to be against the legislation, however, per McGaughy:

“While Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has criticized the bill, Lites is the first club president to reject legislation on behalf of an entire team. Sources have told The Dallas Morning News the Dallas Cowboys have been quietly lobbying against the bills, but the team has not yet publicly rejected it.”

“Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has also spoken out on the bill, saying he doesn’t believe the legislation has hurt Texas business prospects yet, but, ‘We can only use the excuse of having crazy, entertaining state politicians who are merely a sideshow for so long.'”

A similar law in North Carolina was met with stiff resistance and outcry from the sporting world. The NBA pulled its All-Star Game from the state, while the NCAA pulled basketball tournament games from the state as well before the law was repealed.

Both the NBA and NFL have warned the state of Texas, meanwhile, that passing what is seen by many as a discriminatory law against transgender people could cost the state major events in the future.

“If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law (in Texas), that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Ileana Najarro of the Houston Chronicle in February.

“We consider a wide range of factors when making decisions about host locations for league-wide events like the All-Star Game—foremost among them is ensuring the environment where those who participate and attend are treated fairly and equally,” NBA spokesman Bass added that same month, per Najarro.

[Source”cnbc”]

Reviews roundup: Meet Me in the Bathroom; Eureka; What We Lose

The Strokes – New York’s finest – in January 2006.
 The Strokes – New York’s finest – in January 2006. Photograph: Stephen Lovekin/WireImage

“Every scene needs a chronicler like Lizzy Goodman,” was Jim Carroll’s wholehearted recommendation, in the Irish Times, of Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011. The book is “a meaty oral history”, “a wild read” and “strikes all the right notes. As oral histories go, this is one of the very best.” In the Observer, former music journalist Barbara Ellen admired Goodman’s ability “to marshal a veritable army of interviewees who’re not only prepared to talk, but also to gossip, muse, digress, ramble, even bitch and fume, to build the most accurate picture”, making the book “beautifully paced, vivid, informative and compelling”. For the Sunday Times’s Lise Verrico, it was exhaustive at more than 600 pages, and “full of colourful characters, catty comments and incredible candour”.

Anthony Quinn’s novel Eureka also looks back at a swinging time, in this case London in the 1960s, with characters including acid casualty screenwriter Nat Fane. It is part three of a “loosely linked and hugely enjoyable trilogy”, explained Peter Stanford in the Observer, but “works just as well as a standalone”. Stanford found mysteries, wit and entertainment aplenty, but reassured readers: “If Eurekais beginning to sound too clever by half, rather like a 60s counterculture film, what brings it all delightfully together is Quinn’s flawless, easy-going prose. He never once puts a foot wrong either in the wealth of period detail or in giving each well-drawn character their distinctive voice. Clever, certainly, but in just the right measure.” The Mail on Sunday’s Hephzibah Anderson described it as a “pleasingly melancholic romp [which] gallivants towards a dark mystery”, and the Times’s Siobhain Murphy decided that “Quinn’s immersive approach to his historical fiction means we’re soon woozy with the sounds and sights of that significant year”. Not the Daily Mail’s John Harding, though. “[The 60s] are unconvincingly evoked here, with pop music limited to the Beatles and references to Mr Fish fashion and hula hoops feeling tacked on,” he wrote. “The book is padded out with excerpts from Nat’s film script. Let’s hope it never gets made – it’s as flimsy as a go-go dancer’s miniskirt.”

Critics were also divided over the debut novel by Zinzi Clemmons, What We Lose, about a light-skinned black woman living in the US. “Luminescent,” raved Lucy Scholes in the Independent. “Sometimes fierce and angry, other times quiet and tender, it’s a story about identity organised around [a] central, momentous loss – that of a parent – that expands and contracts, as with the beating of a heart, to encompass meditations on race, sex and love … Intelligently and impressively conceived, and beautifully told.” “A memoir trying hard to pass itself off as fiction,” complained Claire Allfree in the Daily Mail. “Clemmons, who shares a lot of biography with her narrator, has a bracingly clear-eyed view on racial politics and the psychological dissonance of living between two cultures, and the tension between her steady prose and turbulent emotions is beautifully sustained. Yet I found it frustrating … Clemmons has yet to make this territory her own.” But the Sunday Times’s Phil Baker was impressed, on balance, finding that “sometimes the result feels like a struggle between grief and pretentiousness, but the frankness and intelligence of the writing win out”.

[Source”cnbc”]

4 sleek flooring trends for your bathroom

bathroom-floor-ideas

1-lavastone-bathroom-floor-ideas-copy

 

Tiny bathroom? No problem. This translates to a big budget for a small space. You can choose from the most expensive materials, an option you can’t make use of in your other living spaces. Lavastone, for instance. Bought from the volcanic slopes from Italy and France, hardened lava adds so much depth to the bathroom and being both water and stand-proof—is functional too.

Inventive Tile Lay Patterns

4-bathroom-floor-ideas

There are three steps to this: Firstly, opting for rectangular tiles rather than square ones. Secondly, integrating 2-3 different colours of tiles (not more, not less). Finally, tiling them in a slanted manner in place of usual horizontals.

The colour combinations of these rectangular tiles and choice of tile is completely at your discretion. Make use of unique lay patterns, for they instantly uplift an average bathroom to its slightly more eclectic version.

Eco-friendly Floors

3-cork-bathroom-floor-ideas-eco-friendly-sustainable

Sustainable architecture is so much in demand. From the use of sustainable raw materials in miniature home accessories to the bricks in mammoth architectural projects, eco-friendly home trends have become common.

It then seems only apt to use eco-friendly materials for our bathroom floors. Functionality need not be of question, however, because there are durable flooring materials that happen to be eco-friendly too!

Linoleum or cork are two such materials (both water-proof and durable) and are very different from each other. Incorporate one of them into your bathroom’s wet (shower) area. The difference in texture from when you step onto the bathroom’s dry and wet areas will pack in a neat punch.

Solid Prints

2-prints-solid-florals-bathroom-floor-tile-ideas

Offering a long-term solution for people who love exuberant prints (like large florals or zebra stripes) but eventually tire of them, the solid print consists of your favourite print alongside a complementary shade of colour.

Bring this simple design technique onto your bathroom’s floors by combining delightful printed tiles with neutral ones. This will liven your bathroom and keep it grounded, at the same time.

[Source”cnbc”]

5 futuristic home lighting solutions starting at just $15

Home Lighting Ideas

You don’t need to be a millionaire to step up your home decor, and creative lighting is one of the best ways to make a big impact on your guests without making a big impact on your wallet. It’s something most people don’t think about often enough, but “smart lighting” is still new enough that even simple solutions can feel futuristic to your guests — and to yourself! From something as simple as a Philips Hue bulb to a very cool solution that emits a soft glow from underneath your bed when you get up, you’ll find five cool and creative lighting solutions to check out in this post. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many “wows” I’ve gotten thanks to my $15 HDTV backlighting kit. You’ve got to check it out!

Under Bed Motion Activated Lighting

  • THE SMART LIGHTING FOR NIGHT-TIME: Now with our motion activated LED light, you can safely navigate across any room you install it, safely. No more bumping on furniture or searching for the light switches! As soon as you place your feet on the ground, the smart motion detector will light up, allowing you to see without being too bright or too dim
  • MOTION ACTIVATED: Built-in human body passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor light with automatic shut-off timer. Automatic Turn on and Shut off by human induction in the dark environment. Inductive range: 3.6m (11.8feet), 100°
  • ADJUSTABLE TIME: Motion sensor Auto shut-off timer can be set from 30 seconds to 6 minutes. Continue Triggerand System to keep the light on and automatic turn off within 30 secs- 6mins after leaving.
  • SUPER EASY SET UP: Our smart night light kit, might be advanced technology, but it will take you only several minutes to set the whole thing up! Easy to read and follow instructions and 3M adhesive tape are already included to make your life easy
  • MULTI PURPOSE — Safely guide you through the dark. Can be installed in anywhere you need extra light. Not only act as under bed light, but also covers a wide range of home applications like stairway, cabinet, cupboard, sofa, furniture etc.

    EveShine Neon Accent LED Strips For HDTV

    • Relieve Your Eye Strain – Quality Bias Lighting can help reduce the eye strain cuased by long exposures to TV screens and monitors in dark rooms. It can also help make the grays and blacks on your screen seem richer.
    • Easy Installation – 35.4” Strip + 46.45” USB cable + A Spare 3M Adhesive Tape , High brightness 30 quality LEDs, Cut the Led Strip with Scissors On the Cut Marks (White Lines), NOTE: Don’t cut the light too short, it should be long enough to be placed in the middle of the back of your tv, Please refer to the 4th image!; Remove the adhesive backing on the strips. Firmly Press the strips to the rear of your tv approx. in the center between top and bottom, then connect the USB TO USB port.
    • Super Sticky Adhesive -The 3M 300MP adhesive(it has better viscosity than 3M 200MP) provides secure and strong installation without worrying about falling off. Attention: Be careful when you remove the adhesive backing tape on the strips, only tear off the Yellow Tape. Don’t peel off the Adhesive Sticker with the Yellow Tape together.
    • Control the Light with Remote – Come with 17 key mini RF remote, has 20 colors for you to choose. You can use the remote control change the color, the brightness as well as different lighting modes. Wireless range: 50ft.
    • Fit your mood – Customized light kit for 32 to 46 inch HDTV. ( NOTE: This Led Light Strip is 35.4inch and Comes with a Spare 3M Adhesive Tape for your convenience). Use the LED Strip to light up or create festive lights on your monitor, TV, or furniture. Choose from solid colors, strobes, or cycling colors to fit your mood! You can easily swap between colors and lighting modes using the remote control.

      Philips 464487 Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Single Smart LED Bulb

      • Choose between millions of colors and shades of white light to light your home, wirelessly control with your smartphone or tablet, and sync your light immersively to music, games, and movies.
      • Requiring the Hue Bridge (sold separately) for the full Hue experience, this bulb fits standard-size table and floor lamps. Enjoy richer shades of green, cyan, and blue with improved design.
      • Install the LED light as you would install ordinary bulbs, then pair them with the Hue Bridge, which allows you to control smart-bulb-equipped lamps and overhead lights via the Philips Hue App.
      • Easily expand your lighting system with accessories (sold separately), such as a Hue Dimmer Switch, Hue Tap, or Hue Motion Sensor. Pair it for automation with your existing Nest or SmartThings system.
      • This box includes one Philips Hue color A19 standard light bulb, manual, and three-year warranty.

        WenTop Led Light Strip

        • This is a standard kit. The adaptor is UL listed.and they can only load 32.8ft. Please don’t increase the strip light. Come with RGB LED strips, remote controller,UL listed AC adaptor and control box. No more accessories are required.The ventilation must be ensured.These lights need an excessive amount of airflow for cooling.
        • The led will not dim if you connect them from each output of the ir receiver.(like main pic)44key controller contained a DIY fuction , Press “DIY” botton and then just long press one of the arrow button to set it.Also it have dimming and brightness control.
        • Cuttable and linkable. Color changing LED Strip Lights can be cut to every 3 leds, its 5M adhesive tape backing can be fit many dry flat surface.
        • It’s can be change the color via the controller.A lot of color option.Very suitable for indoor lighting and decor. Such as kitchen, under cabinet, dining room, bedroom, party, wedding…..All indoor use .
        • Remarks: Comes with a full 12 month warranty, 30 days money back guarantee.If the power adapter or other accessories do not work, please contact us for help. Connect the load and power lines, make sure all connection right before power switched on; Insure there is no obstacle between the IR controller and the receiver when operating; Take off the plastic sheet of remotes battery before using.

          WenTop Led Light Strip

          • This is a standard kit. The adaptor is UL listed.and they can only load 32.8ft. Please don’t increase the strip light. Come with RGB LED strips, remote controller,UL listed AC adaptor and control box. No more accessories are required.The ventilation must be ensured.These lights need an excessive amount of airflow for cooling.
          • The led will not dim if you connect them from each output of the ir receiver.(like main pic)44key controller contained a DIY fuction , Press “DIY” botton and then just long press one of the arrow button to set it.Also it have dimming and brightness control.
          • Cuttable and linkable. Color changing LED Strip Lights can be cut to every 3 leds, its 5M adhesive tape backing can be fit many dry flat surface.
          • It’s can be change the color via the controller.A lot of color option.Very suitable for indoor lighting and decor. Such as kitchen, under cabinet, dining room, bedroom, party, wedding…..All indoor use .
          • Remarks: Comes with a full 12 month warranty, 30 days money back guarantee.If the power adapter or other accessories do not work, please contact us for help. Connect the load and power lines, make sure all connection right before power switched on; Insure there is no obstacle between the IR controller and the receiver when operating; Take off the plastic sheet of remotes battery before using.

Source:-com

How J.C. Penney could benefit, struggle from Sears’ Amazon partnership

With its partnership to sell Kenmore appliances on Amazon, Sears Holding Corp. hopes to rival other hard good retailers like J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP). But both companies stand to fight for more than appliance sales as they go head-to-head over hard goods.

Sears (Nasdaq: SHLD) announced July 20 an agreement to sell its Kenmore line on Amazon.com as the company struggles to bring customers into stores, and as its Canadian arm has gone into default.

The Kenmore name is more than a century old, and one of the country’s most iconic appliance brands. While selling the products on Amazon means Sears loses its exclusivity with Kenmore, the move may help bring much-needed revenue to the department store.

“The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S.,” Sears CEO Eddie Lampert said in a prepared statement about the partnership.

Stocks of other appliance retailers stumbled the day of the Sears/Amazon announcement. Home Depot’s shares took a 4.5 percent hit, while Lowe’s Cos. Inc. declined 5.9 percent. Best Buy decreased 4.2 percent.

In comparison, shares of Sears were up 13 percent on the news.

J.C. Penney saw a much smaller impact, with its shares decreasing less than 1 percent. But the announcement has more ramifications for the Plano retailer than its stock price.

In January 2016, J.C. Penney began re-introducing appliances into its brick and mortar stores after a more than 30-year hiatus from the sales category. Since then, the company has introduced the products online and said it plans to roll out appliance showrooms to 600 stores by the end of 2017.

J.C. Penney declined to comment on how its appliance business is faring so far and does not separate appliance sales from overall revenue. In its first quarter 2017 earnings, reported May 12, the company said improvements in several departments, including appliances “ provide us with the confidence to maintain our sales guidance for the full year.”

The company’s second quarter earnings will be reported on Friday before market open.

While J.C. Penney has competed with Sears for appliance dollars since introducing the products, Sears’ Amazon partnership gives the rival company a larger platform to market its goods.

“That deal gives Sears the opportunity to remain somewhat relevant in a space where they have been completely marginalized otherwise,” said Jason Moser, an analyst with Million Dollar Portfolio at The Motley Fool. “This deal keeps Sears somewhat current, at least in the consumer’s eyes, which is a plus.”

To keep up, analysts say J.C. Penney must continue pushing its own e-commerce efforts.

And to differentiate itself, the retailer should continue improving its home department, which has been expanded to include Ashley Furniture; pilots of Empire Flooring and Trane heating, ventilation and air conditioning services; bathroom remodeling; quick-ship and installed blinds; home water solutions; awnings and smart home technology.

It also offers washers, dryers, refrigerators and microwaves to commercial and residential property groups.

“I think they can leverage their strength in home with window treatments and other things to create a back-to-front home design service that includes not only treatments and decor, but appliances and smart home features,” added Ed Fox, associate professor of marketing at the W.R. and Judy Howell director of the J.C. Penney Center for Retail Excellence at Southern Methodist University.

However, pushing appliances may hurt Sears and J.C. Penney in areas that both have been pushing to improve – in-store traffic and comparable sales. Because consumers buy appliances infrequently and usually have them delivered, they have little incentive to visit brick and mortar stores. And offering appliances online further reduces the need for a store visit.

In its first quarter earnings, J.C. Penney saw a 3.5 percent decrease in same-store sales, while Sears, which reported first quarter earnings on May 25, saw a roughly 12 percent dip.

“While they have a high-dollar value don’t bring people in stores frequently,” Fox said. “Now people can get competitive products rather than walking into a store.”

The good news for J.C. Penney is that while it continues to work on appliances other initiatives to return to profitability, analysts are unsure Sears will be able to battle store closures and lagging profits to stay in business.

“It’s becoming apparent that Sears is in what’s becoming a death spiral,” Fox said in January. “J.C. Penney will be around in three to five years, and Sears may very well not.”

That means while J.C. Penney might currently be losing customers now to the Sears/Amazon partnership, it could pick up those clients again in the case of a Sears bankruptcy.

“The core customers for the apparel and home businesses at Sears and J.C. Penney were quite similar,” Steve Dennis, president of retail strategy firm SageBerry Consulting, said earlier this year. “They were pretty price sensitive with fairly constrained incomes.”

Source:-bizjournals.

Almost Half of Qatar’s Traditional Investor Base Has Cut Ties With the Country

Banks in the world’s wealthiest nation per capita will need to offer more yield if they tap the market as almost half of their traditional investor base has cut ties with the country.

Qatar National Bank QPSC, Commercial Bank QSC and Doha Bank QSC are considering funding options that include loans, private placements or dollar bonds, people familiar with the plans said. But investors and analysts say the lenders will have to pay more to compensate for the region’s political risk to drum up interest.

Read More: QNB Is Said Among Qatari Lenders Seeking Funding Amid Spat

Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations severed relations with Qatar two months ago accusing it of supporting extremist groups, a charge it denies. That led to a drop in foreign deposits in June, the steepest in almost two years, and a record jump in the three-month Qatar Interbank Offer Rate.

Here’s what analysts and investors had to say about borrowing costs for Qatari banks planning to tap the market:

  • While borrowing costs will rise, “the assumption of government support means yields won’t rise that much,” said Max Wolman, a London-based senior investment manager who helps oversee $11 billion in emerging-market debt at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc.
    • There could be interest from some Asian investors, given they were involved in some of the recent Middle East sovereign deals.
    • “If they look attractive from a yield perspective we could buy them. Currently we are very underweight Qatar” because the yields weren’t attractive
    • Looking at QNB’s dollar-denominated bonds due September 2021, the yields peaked at 3.8 percent and are currently around 3.1 percent, “so I would say a five-year at 3.5 to 3.75 percent would be attractive.”
  • Even if they offer “200 basis points over midswaps, I would not lend to them at this rate, as it will not cover for the risk of further deterioration,” said Marina Davies, a London-based senior credit analyst at Pioneer Investment Management Ltd., a company of Amundi Group that oversees over $1 trillion globally.
    • “Basically, we are talking not only about the price, but about the availability of such funding, as so far the banking system seems to be having capital outflows.”
    • “For now, if they don’t manage to raise money, the authorities will provide it as they have been doing until now. The short-term debt of the banks is significant, and it does not seem to be renewed. The sovereign is plugging it for now, but providing just enough foreign currency to compensate for the outflows.”
    • “However, we don’t know how liquid the sovereign funds are, and we can expect that the asset quality of the banks may deteriorate. Therefore, I believe the current levels don’t reflect the credit risk of this system.”
  • The risk premium demanded by the market has already gone up, after Moody’s Investors Service lowered their outlook on Qatari Banks, said Rami Jamal, a money manager at Amwal LLC in Doha, which oversees around one billion riyals ($270 million) in assets.
    • “Pricing thus becomes dependent primarily on the currency and the tenor of the debt. If QNB is looking to raise debt for five years in U.S. dollars, for example, the market will not accept anything below 3.50-3.75 percent range.”
    • “QNB has plenty of short-term funding maturing in the next two years.”
  • Asian investors could help Qatari banks keep yields on offerings relatively low, according to Zurich-based Philipp Good, who helps manage about 9 billion Swiss francs ($9.4 billion) at Fisch Asset Management AG.
    • “My best guess is that they find partners who give them money at a very low premium to current market prices.”
    • “Asian investors are still keen to put money into the Middle East and I do not doubt that they will get the money at similar spreads” as previous sales.
    • “I would expect no additional premium from where the market is today. Repricing has taken place already.”
  • Deterioration in the economy and possible further downgrades of Qatar’s long-term debt will drive local institutions to pay higher spreads as a result of the risk premium, said Tariq Qaqish, the managing director of the asset management division at Mena Corp. Financial Services in Dubai.
    • “In the short term, psychology will pay a big role in pricing new debt issues as investors are uncertain of the magnitude of the problem and, most importantly, the length.”
    • “As deposits decline and the average loan-to-deposit ratio rise, I expect most banks to tap the market and to pay a risk premium of 15-20 basis points.”

Qatari bank bonds maturing this year:

Issuer

Bonds

Maturity

Amount due (in $ million)

QNB 13 Aug. 26 – Dec. 27 382
QIB 1 Oct. 10 750
QIIB

Source:-bloomberg

1 Oct. 18 700