Liberia Security Council reviews sanctions discusses draft text for Mondays vote

After meeting in closed-door consultations to review the sanctions imposed on Liberia for its support for the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone and other armed groups in the region, the United Nations Security Council today said it had also discussed a draft resolution that it intended to vote on next Monday.During the consultations, the Council heard a briefing by a senior UN official on the latest report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Liberia’s compliance with the measures imposed by the Council in March 2001 by resolution 1343, Council President Kishore Mahbubani said in a statement to the press after the meeting. In the report, the Secretary-General, in part, says that while the Mano River Union countries have been holding a series of meetings to find a permanent solution to the region’s crisis, greater efforts are still needed to restore lasting peace in Liberia,Mr. Annan reports that starting with a summit in February of the leaders of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, which was hosted by Morocco, several other meetings at the technical and ministerial levels have also been convened and that a second Rabat summit meeting has reportedly been scheduled for this month.Moreover, efforts are being made to find a solution to the current fighting within Liberia with a view to achieving national reconciliation and, ultimately, lasting peace in the country, Mr. Annan says. He notes that a pre-reconciliation conference was held in March, under the auspices of ECOWAS, between Government representatives and members of opposition political parties, civil society and religious and community leaders, in preparation for a full-fledged national reconciliation conference in Monrovia in July.”Much remains to be done to restore sustainable peace in Liberia, whose stability is essential for the stability of the wider Mano River Union,” the Secretary-General writes. “I have no doubt that the Council, as it considers the appropriate follow-up to resolution 1343, will take stock of developments and strive towards consolidating the momentum that the Rabat summit, in particular, seems to have generated.” read more

Agrium target of activist investor Jana reports higher Q4 earnings

by Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 21, 2013 7:44 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Agrium, target of activist investor Jana, reports higher Q4 earnings CALGARY – Agrium Inc., which is embroiled in a proxy fight with its largest shareholder, reported higher fourth-quarter profits and sales on Thursday.The Calgary-based fertilizer giant says net earnings for the last three months of 2012 were $354 million, or $2.34 per share, up from $193 million, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier.Sales were $3.26 billion, up from $3.18 billion.The results were helped by a $22 million recovery of previously paid and disputed guarantees for letters of credit in an AWB Ltd. investment. AWB is the Australian grain handler Agrium acquired in 2010.The quarter also included an $18 million recovery in share-based expense payment expenses.Without those items, net earnings would have been $326 million, or $2.16 per share.The earnings beat analyst expectations of $2.02 per share, while revenue came in line with Street predictions, according to Thomson Reuters.The dispute with Jana Partners LLC went public in August, after the New York hedge fund had first approached Agrium privately in May. The fund has spent $1 billion for a 6.5 per cent stake in the fertilizer giant.Among other things, Jana wants Agrium to split its retail division, which sells seeds, fertilizers and other products to farmers, from its wholesale segment.Agrium says that proposal would expose shareholders to too much risk and destroy value.Agrium’s retail segment had record sales of $2 billion during the fourth quarter, an increase of eight per cent, compared to $1.8 billion a year earlier.“The increase was primarily due to a combination of the large winter wheat crop planted, early harvest and favourable weather conditions for the fall application season in the U.S.,” Agrium said.Wholesale had sales of $1.4 billion, a slight dip from the record $1.5 billion it reported during the same quarter of 2011.Jana has also attacked Agrium for its costs, capital allocation and governance.The fund wants to appoint five directors to Agrium’s board. Its slate includes Jana managing partner Barry Rosenstein, former Liberal agriculture minister Lyle Vanclief and three men with the executive experience in distribution that the fund says is lacking on Agrium’s board.Last week, Agrium put forward two of its own candidates, former Viterra Inc. CEO Mayo Schmidt and former Deere & Co. executive David Everitt.Agrium said it had been close to reaching a compromise with Jana to put an end to what has become a bitter proxy fight, but that the hedge fund “reneged” at the “last minute.” Jana takes issue with that version of events.In an open letter to Agrium shareholders earlier this week, Jana said neither Schmidt nor Everitt have the adequate distribution experience that Agrium needs and were “pre-screened to ensure compliance with the status-quo.”The letter also took aim at Agrium’s decision to schedule its annual general meeting on April 9, a month earlier than the event normally takes place. Agrium says it wants to get the battle over with, while Jana accuses it of cutting short the debate.Agrium shares dropped 1.8 per cent to $108.75 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Thursday. read more