Sat04292017

Friday, 28 April 2017 19:04

Dutch Kingsday Celebrated with Gusto

kingsday

Luxembourg’s Dutch community celebrated their national holiday King’s Day yesterday in glowing style. 

While the Dutch Ambassador hosted an official garden party reception for this occasion at the Residency “Bricherhaff” for the dignitaries, politicians, diplomatic corps and local Dutch community on Wednesday 26 April, the Dutch Club Luxembourg took care of the festive part of the celebrations on the actual day itself.

Following tradition the party was held at the Tube bar in the city centre. For the party, sponsored by Vistra, the pub was painted Orange and Dutch tunes were played by Dutch DJ Jean-Pierre.

Koningsdag (King’s Day) is the national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and is celebrated on 27 April, the birthday of King Willem-Alexander who turned 50 this year, and is celebrated all over the world, from the Netherlands to the Caribbean, including Aruba, Curaçao and Saint Martin (Sint Maarten).  

Previously the national Holiday was known as Queen’s Day and was celebrated on 30 April, for Queen Juliana, the current King’s grandmother. Since King Willem Alexander‘s accession to the throne in 2013 the day moved three days ahead. 

In the Netherlands, Kingsday is known for its nationwide “free markets” when many Dutch people empty their attics and sell their secondhand items and also give the opportunity for the country to show the orange madness (“oranje gekte”) when the normally down to earth Dutch let down their hair, the latter often dyed orange for the occasion, and everyone and everything turns orange for a day.

King’s Day is also an opportunity for the Monarch to honour citizens in the “Order of Orange – Nassau” for their service to the country. 

The Dutch Club Luxembourg is a very active social club organising events and activities throughout the year for all age groups. Currently the club has about 500 members (nvl.lu).

ville de luxembourg logo

The communal council of the City of Luxembourg convened today to decide on the claims brought against the General Development Project (PAG) and the Special Development Projects for Existing Areas (PAPQE), and to decide on the approval of such plans by potentially amending them based on the  opinion of the development committee (commission d'aménagement) or the assessment unit (cellule d'évaluation) and on the submitted claims.

In relation to the PAG, the communal council’s general approval decision will be published within eight days of the vote according to the usual procedures and notified by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt to any person who has filed claims in writing, with the decision made based on their claims.

City law firm Elvinger Hoss Prussen has issued a reminder that any person who wishes to bring an action against the decisions made on the PAG, in view of their claim and, or the general approval decision, must refer to the Minister for Home Affairs and the Greater Region, within fifteen days after receipt of the registered letter mentioned above, under penalty of foreclosure. Failing that, any claim, any subsequent remedy will be declared inadmissible.

The Minister will decide on the claims that have been referred to him. His decision may be challenged before the administrative tribunal.

The City’s communal council may amend certain provisions of the graphic and written parts of the plan, in particular on the basis of the development committee’s opinion and/or the submitted claims.

Any person who is potentially concerned by these amendments, other than the claimants themselves, will not be directly informed.

The only way to know about the content of these amendments will be to consult the files in the offices of the competent departments of the communal administration.

Any observations against these amendments must be made and submitted to the Minister within fifteen days from the publication of the communal council’s decision. 

Decisions on the PAPQE will be directly submitted to the Minister for Home Affairs for approval. The law does not provide any claim to be submitted to the Minister. The only option is to bring an action before the administrative tribunal against the decision of approval of the Minister.

 

Petrol Unleaded Hand Shutterstock 600x394

Luxembourg petrol prices have fallen slightly with effect from Tuesday 29 April 2017.

The cost of Unleaded 95 octane petrol dropped .022 cents a litre to €1.157 per litre, including VAT, whilst the cost of Unleaded 98 octane petrol also fell by 0.021 cents per litre to €1.223, including VAT.

The cost of diesel fell by 0.017 cents to €0.982 per litre, including VAT. 

 

school of finance

A group of 76 students from the Luxembourg School of Finance (LSF) of the University of Luxembourg celebrated the successful completion of their studies on Wednesday evening, graduating with degrees in Banking and Finance and Wealth Management.

Hosted at d’Coque Amphithéâtre, the ceremony saw 47 students graduate with a Master of Science in Banking and Finance, with 29 students receiving their Master in Wealth Management diplomas. Students from 30 different nationalities graduated on Wednesday, with over 40 per cent from non-EU countries, while 23 graduates came from Luxembourg and the Greater Region countries, and another quarter of students from other EU countries.

The international character of the study programmes is further emphasised by students of every cohort spending time abroad for an academic week-in-residence at New York University’s Stern School of Business or Singapore Management University as part of their degrees, which also include an internship with a company based in Luxembourg.

Students and their families were welcomed by the Head of the LSF, Prof. Jang Schiltz, as well as University Vice-President for Academic Affairs Prof. Romain Martin who both congratulated graduates on their achievement. Keynote speaker John Marshall, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Luxembourg, spoke to students about “Britain in 2017 – What the future holds” in light of the pending exit of the UK from the European Union.

Both cohorts had elected a class valedictorian ahead of the ceremony who spoke about the experiences they shared with their fellow graduates. Oscar Samayoa (Banking and Finance) gave a special thank you to “all of our professors who educated us with the utmost dedication and passion, exceeding all of our expectations.” He also highlighted the career guidance received, with the LSF for example organising soft-skills workshops and recruitment events for its students, which has already helped him secure a job with a company in the Luxembourg financial sector. Marko Klacar (Wealth Management) added: “Our class was a true mini-United Nations,” calling on his classmates to be ambassadors of the programme in future. Additionally, representatives of the LSF Alumni Association were at hand to present their activities and how the new graduates can use this network to keep in touch and build their careers.

The top students from each Master received special recognition for their outstanding performance. Fernando Manuel Lozano received the Bank of China Prize for Best Student in Banking and Finance, presented by Deputy General Manager Xiaolu Zhang. The Prize for Best Student in Wealth Management was awarded by Pictet, with Senior Vice President Christophe Deltomme presenting the award to Divyanjali Sisodia. Additionally, Jean Medernach, President of Investas, presented the Investas Prize for the Best Master Thesis to Alexandra Knyazeva. 

The diplomas were handed out by the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, Prof. Stefan Braum, together with Prof. Jang Schiltz, who is also the course director of the Master in Wealth Management, and Prof. Thorsten Lehnert, course director of the MSc in Banking and Finance. The ceremony was followed by a cocktail reception for students to celebrate their success.

government logo

During a scheduled meeting at the Chamber of Commerce next Wednesday 3 May, the Quadripartite Committee will examine the current financial situation with regard to sickness-maternity insurance, as well as the latest financial forecasts for the current year and for the financial year 2018 presented by the services of the National Health Fund.

Romain Schneider will provide information on the state of implementation of the new benefits for insured persons, part of which came into force on 1 January 2017. These had been discussed at the last meeting of the Committee in October 2016. Benefit improvements focus on dental care and visual aids. There are also areas where further improvements can be made. 

Lydia Mutsch will present the latest developments since the last quadripartite committee to improve the functioning of emergency services. This exercise is part of the ongoing process of identifying causes of congestion with a view to identifying concrete and sustainable proposals for improving the organisation of emergency services.

Similarly, an inventory will be presented on the establishment of a hospital documentation system, an ambitious and innovative project aimed at improving and facilitating the documentation of health care provided within hospitals.

The Minister of Health will take stock of recent developments in the hospital sector.

This meeting of the quadripartite committee will also be the occasion to address various current topics in the field of maternity health insurance.

The quadripartite committee provided for in Article 80 of the Social Security Code brings together all parties involved in the governance and functioning of sickness and maternity insurance. In this case, it is the government, representatives of the most representative professional organisations of employees and employers, as well as representatives of health care providers. The Committee shall examine the development of health income and expenditure and propose measures to be taken at the statutory, regulatory, conventional or statutory level in respect of sickness insurance and any other measures designed to improve the efficiency of the system Taking into account the needs of the population, the evolution of medical techniques and the resources available to the country.

fairtrade

Restopolis organizes a "Iess gär, wiel fair” thematic fortnight from 2 to 12 May to highlight fair trade food in all its restaurants.

Since 2009, the school and university catering service of the Ministry of National Education, Childhood and Youth has placed a week under the theme "Fairtrade" to familiarise its guests with fair trade products and the conditions of the working poor.

Resopolis’ commitment plays out in the long term through the constant increase in the list of equitable products sold and used. The criteria for awarding public bids also stipulate that products such as coffee, tea, bananas and pineapples must be fair trade.

In the menus, dishes based on fair trade products are clearly marked with a pictogram with the label "Fairtrade".

During the thematic fortnight, a new brochure entitled "Iess gär, wiel fair" will be distributed in the 108 restaurants and cafeterias managed by Restopolis — downloadable on www.restopolis.lu. The publication highlights current efforts to promote the introduction of fair trade products in collective catering and contains a small historical overview of fair trade, as well as tips for the reader to support the Fairtrade trade. 

Guests will find at least one dish on the menu that contains products from the Fairtrade trade.

Restopolis will also be present in nine high schools, from 2 to 12 May 2017, with an information stand to answer questions concerning the production of fair trade products, the processing of Fairtrade foods and dishes based on foods derived from Fair trade.

An online contest around fair trade products will win many prizes.

 

Friday, 28 April 2017 17:02

SES Posts Positive First Quarter Results

SES RRV

Global satellite communications company, SES, has released its first-quarter results for 2017, showing revenue of €540.6 million, up 12.2% against 2016. 

The company showed an EBITDA margin of 66.2% and operating profit margin of 34.5%, a net profit attributable to SES shareholders of €128.4 million up 11.5% on 2016. The net debt to EBITDA ration is 3.05, up from a year ago, but in line with SES’s financial framework. 

The company attributes the positive results to an improved business mix that has supported growth acceleration. 

Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO, said the results were in line with expectations. 

“The first quarter 2017 results were fully in line with our expectations. SES returned to growth in Q1 2017 with all of our data-centric markets developing positively, and we remain well placed to deliver sustained growth in all four of our market verticals. The restructuring of SES’s go-to-market organisation model, with the creation of two natural business units, represents a further acceleration of our market-centric strategy. With SES Video and SES Networks, we are coalescing our differentiated capabilities to best serve customers globally,” he said. 

“The launch of SES-10 on SpaceX’s first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket was a further step towards more efficient launch capabilities, and is yet another demonstration of SES’s strategy of working with our industrial partners to be at the forefront of innovation. 

In April 2017, the company’s Board approved a restructuring of SES’s go-to-market organisation model with the creation of two highly focused communities – SES Video and SES Networks. The new organisation, which will be implemented during 2017, allows SES to deliver increasingly differentiated and essential satellite-enabled communication solutions to clients in the video and data-centric verticals.

Ferdinand Kayser, formerly Chief Commercial Officer, was appointed CEO of SES Video. Steve Collar, formerly CEO of O3b, was appointed CEO of SES Networks, which comprises the Enterprise, Mobility and Government verticals and integrates O3b.

Video accounted for 65% of group revenue (71% in Q1 2016).

• Reported revenue up 4.5% to EUR 353.4 million (-4.2% like for like)

• Lower periodic and services revenue were largely behind the movement in (like for like) revenue

• Contribution from further HD/UHD growth and new capacity in fast-growing markets support stable to slight growth (like for like) outlook for FY 2017

Lower periodic and services revenue in Q1 2017 largely accounted for the (like for like) revenue reduction over the prior period. The balance reflected a modest volume movement related to the timing of MPEG-4 expansion in line with the group’s long-term objective of sustaining the upgrade of the viewing experience to High Definition (HD) and Ultra High Definition (UHD).

As at 31 March 2017, the SES global fleet carried 7,610 total TV channels, which was 4% higher than 31 March 2016. SES’s HDTV channel count grew by 6%, year-on-year, to 2,496 channels, while the SES satellite network now also carries 22 commercial UHD channels (31 March 2016: 15). 63% of total TV channels are broadcast in MPEG-4 (31 March 2016: 57%).

SES’s satellite fleet is broadcasting video content to 325 million households around the world, which represents an increase of around 8 million households (or 3%) over the prior year.

The main highlights in Video included:

• SPI International/FILMBOX Channels Group signed a multi-year capacity agreement to extend audience reach in Latin America and broadcast 10 HDTV channels to the region;

• Media Broadcast Satellite and SES agreed a multi-year capacity extension contract for use of a full transponder at 19.2 degrees East to continue to serve customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland;

• SES’s UHD trials in North America continued to gain momentum by adding seven additional U.S. cable operators to the test platform, which is now working with 15 cable operators across the U.S.;

• SES announced a collaborative agreement with Verizon for testing of UHD in North America to drive the overall development of UHD delivery solutions for Verizon Fios, which is currently serving over 4.5 million video subscribers in the U.S.; and

• Successful launch of SES-10, on SpaceX’s first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket, which will serve the Andean Community (Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru) for direct-to-home broadcasting as well as enterprise and mobility services.

In addition, MX1 secured a long-term contract renewal and expanded agreement with Beta Film Ltd. for a range of media services, including content management, using the MX1 360 platform. MX1 360 is a centralised, cloud-based media asset management solution, which was also recently contracted by the Israel Premier Football League to provide an end-to-end service for live editing of sports content.

In January 2017, MX1 and Sky Deutschland agreed a multi-year contract extension for the provision of back-up services to enable business continuity. The agreement includes playout and turnaround services, such as encoding, multiplexing and encryption, and uplink services.

In April 2017, a multi-year distribution agreement was signed between MX1 and VUBIQUITY. The new service offers broadcasters, TV channels and rights holders the ability to aggregate content and reach millions of viewers in the U.S. and worldwide, quickly and simply through a single platform. This was followed by an agreement for MX1 to support the linear broadcasting requirements for a major global video on demand platform.

Enterprise: 13% of group revenue (Q1 2016: 12%)

• Reported revenue up 19.7% to EUR 71.7 million (+0.6% like for like)

• Further capacity increases by existing O3b clients supporting overall trend of return to growth in Enterprise, in line with expectations for FY 2017 (like for like) revenue development

• Building positive traction for SES (GEO) Enterprise+ services

The main highlights in Enterprise included:

• Intersat signed a multi-year capacity agreement for the delivery of internet solutions across Africa, using the SES Enterprise+ Broadband service. The agreement included a new C-band capacity lease as well as the renewal of Ku-band capacity and supporting teleport services;

• Palau Telecoms increased network capacity for the fifth time in under two years, nearly doubling its capacity requirement since going live on the O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) network;

• Timor Telecom extended their contract for O3b services, which now delivers more than one gigabit per second of low latency connectivity delivered to two sites operated by Timor Telecom; and

• Presta Bist Telecoms increased by 66% its contracted capacity with O3b in response to rising demand for reliable, high-speed broadband in the Republic of Chad.

Mobility: 9% of group revenue (Q1 2016: 5%)

• Reported revenue up 126.4% to EUR 50.5 million (+63.3% like for like)

• Q1 2017 included upfront contribution from Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) related to AMC-3 contract

• Continued expansion of aeronautical and maritime solutions underpin strong growth outlook for FY 2017

The main highlights in Mobility included:

• GEE announced the acquisition of a Ku-band payload on SES’s AMC-3 satellite to boost capacity for customers in North America, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean;

• Satcom Global contracted capacity on both SES’s existing fleet and upcoming next generation hybrid satellites with high throughput payloads, as well as ground network infrastructure, to support delivery of seamless and high-speed connectivity solutions to maritime, offshore and land customers;

• SES and Gilat Satellite Networks announced a strategic collaboration to deliver connectivity for small yachts and vessels in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and North Sea, as well as Southeast Asia; and

• Gogo signed a new contract to use capacity on 12 Ku-band transponders, and supporting ground infrastructure, to expand high-speed inflight connectivity services over the U.S. and Canada.

The agreements with GEE and Gogo reflect SES’s unique approach of leveraging its global fleet, including non-station-kept satellites, to support growth opportunities across the Mobility sector.

Government: 11% of group revenue (Q1 2016: 12%)

• Reported revenue up 4.5% to EUR 59.4 million (+2.4% like for like)

• NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) contract and growth in O3b Government driving return to growth, in line with expectations of stable to slight (like for like) revenue growth for FY 2017

The main highlights in Government included:

• SES Government Solutions (SES GS) continued to benefit from increasing stabilisation in U.S. Government demand, which continues to recover from the impact of the U.S. budget sequestration;

• SES and the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs extended a contract to maintain and support SATMED, a satellite-enabled e-health platform, until 2020; and

• SES launched the Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV), a new Government+ solution, capable of delivering multi-orbit (GEO-MEO) and multi-frequency connectivity for a broad range of government missions.

Future satellite capacity

On 30 March 2017, SES-10 was successfully launched into space on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, becoming the first geostationary satellite to launch on a flight-proven first-stage rocket booster. The satellite is expected to begin commercial service by the end of May 2017 and will provide capabilities for direct-to-home broadcasting, enterprise and mobility services.

In April 2017, SES and Thales Alenia Space announced the addition of a powerful Digital Transparent Processor (DTP) on board SES-17. The fully digital SES-17 spacecraft will provide customers with an unsurpassed ability to efficiently and flexibly modify their networks in real time. This will enable customers to deliver high-speed connectivity in a more efficient and cost effective manner.

roland fox

On 1 May, Roland Fox, the new director of the Bridges and Roads Administration, will take up his duties, succeeding René Biwer, who is retiring.

Mr Fox is currently deputy director of the Administration which has approximately 1,100 employees.

government logo

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will attend the extraordinary meeting of the European Council which will bring together 27 EU Member States in Brussels on 29 April for discussions on the directions to be taken in relation to the Brexit negotiations.  

Later, Xavier Bettel will attend a meeting in Benelux format with the Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, to concerted positions.

The prime minister will also attend a meeting of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) before the European Council.

government logo

As part of the annual coordination cycle of the "European Semester", the Government has just forwarded to the European Commission and the Council of the European Union the 2017 edition of the National Reform Program (PNR) "Luxembourg 2020" and of the Stability and Growth Program (PSC) for the period 2017-2021 on which the Governing Council formally agreed on 28 April 2017. 

This important step in the European Semester follows two meetings of the national social dialogue with the The social partners, organised under the aegis of the Economic and Social Council (ESC), as well as the debates in the Chamber of Deputies on 26 and 27 April 2017.

The "Luxembourg 2020" PNR describes Luxembourg's ten-year strategy to increase employment and productivity while at the same time strengthening social cohesion, to cope with environmental challenges and the ageing of the population. The NRP ensures the implementation of the country-specific recommendations addressed to Luxembourg by the EU Council of Ministers for 2016-2017, as well as a number of quantitative targets set by Luxembourg for 2020 Employment, research and development, early school leaving and higher education, in the field of climate change and energy, as well as in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

The PSC 2017 presents an update of the multi-annual budgetary guidelines adopted last autumn under the law of 23 December 2016 on multi-annual financial programming for the period 2016-2020. It confirms full compliance with the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact and the stabilisation of the public debt below 23% of GDP over the entire period under review, ie below the 30% threshold set by the Government program.

Following the submission of the PNR and PSC to the European Commission and the Council of the EU on 28 April 2017, the timetable for the European Semester is as follows:

The Commission will draw up proposals for 2017-2018 recommendations for each Member State, which will be published in May. The proposals for recommendations will then be discussed at the level of the various committees and the various formations of the Council of Ministers of the EU. The European Council will validate the recommendations in June 2017.

Later in the year, during the second half of the year, Luxembourg will provide guidance, as part of its draft budget plan 2018 to be submitted to the European Commission by 15 October 2017, Possible new recommendations and updated budget guidelines for 2017-18.

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