Shanghai Disney drawing crowds weeks before opening
A month before its official opening, Walt Disney Co.’s latest theme park, in Shanghai, is already a popular destination, attracting thousands. A Disney store and restaurants in a public, commercial strip of the Shanghai Disney Resort opened Saturday to long lines. Locals flocked to the area to stroll around its artificial lake and snap pictures with a fountain sculpture of Mickey Mouse on a steamboat. Disney also began trial operations for the park, its sixth worldwide and first on mainland China. Disney. the world’s largest entertainment company, is banking on 330 million Chinese living within three hours of the site to visit the $5.5 billion resort. CEO Robert Iger has called the Shanghai project Disney’s greatest opportunity since the company bought land in Florida in the 1960s for a theme park there. Iger met with China’s president, Xi Jinping, on Thursday. Xi cited Disney as an example of expanded cooperation between US and Chinese companies.
US average rises to $2.27
The average price of gasoline jumped 9 cents over the past two weeks to $2.27 a gallon for regular grade. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that the increase is mostly due to crude oil prices edging up. On average, the price at the pump has risen 50 cents during the past 12 weeks. In the Lower 48 states, the highest average price of regular gasoline was $2.83 per gallon, in San Francisco. The lowest was $1.92 in Baton Rouge, La. The US average diesel price is $2.28 per gallon, up 8 cents from two weeks ago.
Saudis’ new oil minister won’t cut production, despite glut
Saudi Arabia will probably keep producing crude at near-record levels under its newly appointed oil minister, Khalid Al-Falih, as the world’s largest exporter sticks with his predecessor’s policy of defending market share against higher-cost shale. Al-Falih, also chairman of the state producer Saudi Arabian Oil Co., said Sunday that he will maintain the kingdom’s oil policy. His predecessor, Ali al-Naimi, had been prioritizing sales over prices since 2014, driving some higher-cost producers, including US shale drillers, off the market. In so doing, Saudi Arabia boosted output, adding to a supply glut. The strategy is showing signs of succeeding this year, with prices gaining more than 60 percent since tumbling to a 12-year low in January. Brent crude plunged to less than half of its annual average of more than $100 a barrel from 2011 through 2014. It closed at $45.37 Friday. Analysts suggested Al-Falih may take a harder line in upholding Saudi market share policy within OPEC. He’s an ally of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has a hands-off approach in letting markets determine oil prices. “Al-Falih will probably be more direct with its OPEC partners, like Venezuela and Iran,” said Fabio Scacciavillani, chief economist at Oman Investment Fund. Venezuela and Iran have traditionally pushed for curbing output at times of low prices. But Iran, emerging from international economic sanctions, is putting supply back on the market and challenging the Saudis for new buyers in Asia.
In survey, most executives say they have seen bribery
A survey of 500 board-level executives in 12 countries found that 80 percent have seen bribery and corruption at their companies. Fifty-nine percent said their antibribery policies didn’t work, and 87 percent said the policies made it difficult to build the business, according to a report from the UK law firm Eversheds. Thirty-three percent said they didn’t do due diligence on antibribery measures when exploring mergers and acquisitions. Bribery and corruption came to the fore last month with the so-called Panama Papers scandal, in which documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm showed how some of the world’s wealthiest people channeled billions into offshore accounts, raising questions about tax evasion and money laundering. “The reality is that corrupt business practices will always occur, particularly in high-risk jurisdictions,” said Neill Blundell, a lawyer at Eversheds. “What matters is the way an organization responds. Governments have typically tried to fight bribery by deterring companies with high-profile prosecutions, but they need to work with the private sector to articulate the business case for antibribery.” Only 9 percent of executives surveyed saw legal consequences as the main reason to prevent corruption; 61 percent said the potential impact on commercial success was the leading motivation.
Greece approves more austerity measures
Greece’s Parliament on Sunday approved a bill to reform the debt-ridden country’s pension and tax systems. The bill, introduced as part of requirements the country must meet under its third international bailout, is set to increase individuals’ social security and pension contributions and raise taxes for most people. The measure was approved by the 153 lawmakers of the ruling Syriza/Independent Greeks government coalition; all opposition parties in the 300-member Parliament voted against. The vote took place amid a crippling general strike and protests that briefly turned violent Sunday.