June, 2019

Chocolate sales soar in tough times

Swiss chocolate giant Barry Callebaut says its net profit had soared 15.


3 percent for the six months ending February, despite downturns in most other commodities across the globe.

Barry Callebaut, which is one of the world\’s biggest suppliers of cocoa to other chocolate-makers, said net profit reached 94.12 million euros for the period.

However, the environment would continue to be tough in the second half, with volatile exchange rates, outgoing chief executive Patrick De Maeseneire said.

“Softening cocoa butter prices will have an adverse effect on margins, which we intend to partly offset through continued efficiency gains and cost cutting,” he added.

Its earnings were nonetheless hit by the weakening of key currencies such as the euro, dollar and pound against the Swiss franc. In local currency terms, the growth in profit was 23.2 percent.

Revenues slid 1.6 percent to 2.54 billion francs on weaker consumer demand, particularly in North America and Europe.

“Many food manufacturers, artisans and retailers reduced their stocks in the wake of economic uncertainties and were reluctant to place new orders,” said the group.

Outgoing chief executive Patrick De Maeseneire noted however that the group had a “strong start” in its third quarter (March – May) due to a late Easter, with more orders than a year ago.

The group also announced that De Maeseneire would be leaving Barry Callebaut to become chief executive of Adecco, the employment group, from June 1.

Juergen Steinemann will be Barry Callebaut\’s new chief executive from August 1.

G20 leaders thrash out crisis as protests rage

World leaders have begun thrashing out a rescue package for the global economy.


Leaders including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown began talks about tackling the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

The talks followed a day of protests across London, with more than 4,000 people taking to the streets in an outburst of anger over the handling of the global economic crisis.

More than 80 people were arrested and one man died after a protest outside the Bank of England descended into violence on Wednesday.

Police feared there could be more violence on Thursday, with further protests planned around the London Stock Exchange and near the G20 summit at the ExCel conference centre in the Docklands, in the city\’s east.

G20 leaders began the day with a working breakfast before nearly five hours of formal talks were due to begin later in the morning.

On the agenda are new regulations for the finance industry, extra economic stimulus packages, more money for the International Monetary Fund to help poorer countries, a crackdown on tax havens and a $US100 billion boost for international trade.

The talks began amid clear warnings from France and Germany that unless their calls for tougher regulations for the finance sector were backed by their G20 counterparts, they could walk away from a global economic rescue package.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made their demands clear at a last-minute joint press conference in London on the eve of the summit.

The two leaders have repeatedly criticised calls by Britain and the US for G20 nations to increase government spending to drive an economic recovery.

Sarkozy and Merkel insist their governments have already introduced substantial stimulus packages and there is a greater need for the finance industry to be subject to tighter rules to prevent a repeat of the economic crisis gripping the globe.

Brown has played down divisions with the European leaders and expressed confidence that a rescue deal can be struck.

But the French president, who had earlier threatened to walk out of the summit, told reporters that tighter rules for tax havens, hedge funds and ratings agencies were a “non-negotiable goal”.

Companies found to break the new rules would effectively be named and shamed while bankers\’ pay would be capped, under the Franco-German plan.

“In the results, we want the principle of new regulation to be a major objective … this is not negotiable,” Sarkozy said, adding it was time to “moralise an immoral system”.

“We are just trying to take responsibility.

“This is a historic opportunity afforded us to give capitalism a conscience, because capitalism has lost its conscience and we have to seize this opportunity.”

Merkel said France and Germany wanted the summit to produce results which would “change the world”.

“Any regulations we don\’t agree here, won\’t be agreed for the next five years,” she said.

“The summit is not about horse trading between regulation and economic growth programs.”

Brown expressed confidence that agreement would be struck on regulation, boosting global trade and job creation.

“We are within a few hours, I think, of agreeing a global plan for economic recovery and reform and I think the significance of this is that we are looking at every aspect,” Brown said.

Obama said it was vital all countries worked together to resolve the economic crisis.

“Make no mistake, we are facing the most severe economic crisis since World War II, and the global economy is now so fundamentally interlinked that we can only meet this challenge together,” he said.

South African star to miss Aussie match

South Africa have decided to rest star all-rounder Jacques Kallis from Friday\’s opening one-day international against Australia.


The 33-year-old pace bowler and No.4 batsman is likely to make his return from a groin-muscle injury in Sunday\’s second ODI match at Centurion.

“Jacques hasn\’t come through quite for Friday so he\’s going to be missing out,” captain Graeme Smith said on Thursday.

“Roelof (van der Merwe) is going to be missing out and Vaughan Van Jaarsveld and Wayne Parnell.”

The selection leaves off-spinner Johan Botha to bat at No.8 followed by fast bowlers Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini.

Smith, who like Kallis missed South Africa\’s two Twenty20 International wins against Australia last week because of injury, has returned to the side after overcoming a fractured little finger.

“There\’s myself Herschelle (Gibbs) and Hashim (Amla) in the top three, Botha\’s at eight,” Smith said.

“We bat deep enough. You always want your top order to take as much responsibility as possible,” he added.

“All three of us up front have had our success so it would be nice if we can really make it count here at Kingsmead.

“We\’re excited to go.”

Australia have won the past three World Cups but Proteas coach Mickey Arthur can barely contain his excitement about how his squad is progressing in their push for a title campaign in 2011 on the sub-continent.

No.1-ranked South Africa host Australia for a five-match ODI series starting on Friday in Durban and Arthur says it\’s going to be “huge”.

“We\’ve prioritised what we want to get out of this series. So for us it\’s almost like the re-start of something,” Arthur says.

“Friday for us is huge. You want to go one-nil up and hopefully you can then take momentum from the game on Friday.”

Arthur said the Proteas would be using the series to experiment with combinations ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

We are continually trying to have a look at what is going to be best for us,” said Arthur, who mentored South Africa at the 2007 World Cup where they lost their semi-final to Australia.

“We\’ve alluded to World Cups, there\’s a lot for them to play for.

“We\’ve got a really good mix here.

“Time will tell, without wanting to get too excited.

“But I\’m very happy and I think we\’re dead on track.”

Crew saved in remarkable yacht rescue

One of Australia\’s top racing yachts has been salvaged, and her skipper and crew saved, in a rescue operation in wild seas off the south Queensland coast.


Dual Sydney to Hobart handicap winner Ausmaid rolled and was dismasted on Thursday morning after being hit by a massive wave about eight nautical miles northeast of Noosa Heads.

wner Bruce Absolon said it was only the professionalism of the crew that averted a major disaster.

Mr Absolon said the boat was sailing in very light conditions with no forecasts of heavy weather when everything suddenly changed.

“Within 10 minutes they were in three to four metre seas,” he said.

“They dropped all the sails, lashed the mainsail to the deck and were in the process of lashing the boom to the deck when one rogue wave reared up.

“According to the skipper it was between eight to 10 metres and breaking.

“They rode vertically up on that but it rolled them over,” Mr Absolon said.

Ausmaid did a full 360 degree roll under water before surfacing – without the skipper.

“The skipper was washed overboard but he was still attached to the boat by his safety harness, and the other two crew members pulled him back on board.

“It\’s due solely to the sheer professionalism and experience of the crew that there hasn\’t been a serious injury – or worse”.

The skipper was winched to safety by a rescue helicopter and taken to Nambour Hospital with suspected back injuries, but Mr Absolon said he escaped with some severe bruising and was due to be released from hospital on Thursday night.

After he was rescued the weather worsened and the helicopters were grounded.

A coast guard boat was sent to find the yacht but by then Ausmaid had drifted several kilometres in the strong current.

When it was eventually located, it was much closer to shore, and being pushed in even further by the big seas.

Despite the swell running up to five metres, the coast guard got a line on the drifting ocean racer and started towing her in to Noosa.

Then there was a break in the weather and the two crewmen were also winched onto a helicopter and flown to safety.

Mr Absolon said the boat would be anchored at Laguna Bay off Noosa overnight and he would assess the damage after it was towed into Mooloolaba in the next day or two.

“The mast is in three pieces, there appears to be damage to the steering, but the hull seems to be intact,” he said.

Ausmaid was on her way from Hamilton Island to the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club to compete in the Brisbane to Gladstone race starting on Good Friday.

Madonna\’s adoption bid rejected

A Malawian court has rejected pop icon Madonna\’s request to adopt a three-year-old girl, on the grounds that it could open the door to human trafficking.


“I must have to decline to grant the application to Madonna,” judge Esmie Chondo said in a ruling following a closed-door hearing.

Madonna\’s lawyer Alan Chinula did not speak to reporters as he left the High Court in Malawi\’s administrative capital Lilongwe. The star was not seen at the courthouse.

The judge said that if the courts began facilitating international adoption, their rulings could open the door to trafficking in children.

“By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts by their pronouncements could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of the weakness of the law of the land,” she said.

The judge also said that since the girl was admitted to one of Malawi\’s best orphanages, she was no longer facing the poverty she endured after her mother\’s death during childbirth, mitigating the case for adoption.

“It is evident that Chifundo James no longer is subject to the conditions of poverty at her place of birth, since her admission at Kondanani orphange,” the ruling said.

“I must confess that there\’s a gripping temptation to throw caution to the wind and grant an adoption in the hope that there will be a difference in the life of just one child.

“However, it should be borne in mind that inter-country adoptions may not (be) and are not the only solution,” it added.

The singer and actress arrived by private jet in the southern African state on Sunday accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter Lourdes and three-year-old David Banda, whom she adopted in 2006 after seeing him in a Malawian orphanage.

The following day she filed her application to adopt Chifundo “Mercy” James, sparking fresh controversy over foreign adoptions.

Rights groups, led by the Human Rights Consultative Committee, a coalition of 85 groups, have objected that the impoverished southern African state does not have a law on inter-country adoptions.

But Chinula, Madonna\’s lawyer, has insisted the law had been followed to the letter.