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State Bank to conduct audit of PCB, PSL: sources

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is expected to carry out an audit of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and all three editions of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), a well-informed source told the media on Thursday. The development is likely to take place after the arrival of the new chairman.

According to details, the new Federal Finance Minister Asad Umar has suggested a detailed audit of PCB and all editions of the PSL by SBP.

The source further added that the finance minister wants the SBP to conduct the audit in the same manner as they conduct for the other banks. The PCB chairman will be elected on September 4 and as soon as he takes the charge, he is likely to call a meeting of the Board of Governors (BoG) where the finance minister’s suggestion is likely to be approved. It is important to mention here that the audit of PSL’s first two editions was already carried out by Auditor General of Pakistan on the suggestion of the National Assembly Committee.

In that report, significant discrepancies have been revealed, where few major contracts were awarded without publishing a proper call for tenders, which led to heavy financial losses for the cricket board. The report further stated that many appointments on important positions were based on favouritism while production and ticketing matters were not handled properly.

The selections of Naila Bhatti — Director Marketing — and Usman Wahla — General Manager International Cricket Operations — were specifically mentioned. The audit raised questions over their appointments as far more qualified individuals were available to take up those roles.

It must be noted that Bhatti — who enjoyed a close relationship with former PCB Chairman Najam Sethi — was appointed as a director despite holding only a bachelor’s degree which is against the rules and regulations of PCB.

The sources further stated that the audit pointed out unnecessary expenses during the local and foreign visits made by the board officials whereas there were also reservations over salaries and bonuses given to certain employees. The massive amounts spent on organising opening ceremonies were another major cause of concern.

 

 

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Pakistan out of the Asian Games hockey final as Japan wins 1-0

Monitoring Desk

JAKARTA: Japan beat Pakistan in Asian Games hockey with 1-0 on Thursday, disqualifying the country from reaching the finals.

In the first semi-final, Malaysia managed to defeat India after a penalty shootout. Pakistan and India will be competing for the bronze medal.

Pakistan’s performance in the Asian Games 2018 has been swept a way of disappointment over the country as it finished in the last four with only three medals, amongst the 37 participating countries, just above Afghanistan, Myanmar and Syria.

 

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Serena, Venus ready to vie for 30th time

NEW YORK (Agencies): Serena and Venus Williams set up a 30th career meeting on Wednesday as the US Open reeled from a sexism row sparked when a player changed her shirt on court.

Six-time champion Serena eased into Friday’s third round encounter against her sister with a 6-2, 6-2 win over German world number 101 Carina Witthoeft on the back of 30 winners and 13 aces.

Venus, the 2000 and 2001 champion, made the third round for the 17th time with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Camila Giorgi of Italy.

Friday’s match will be the earliest the sisters have met at a Slam since the 1998 Australian Open in what was also their first-ever clash. It will be their sixth face-off in New York. “Friday will be incredibly hard,” said Serena before jokingly hitting back at Venus’s claim that when they last met at a Slam in the final of the 2017 Australian Open her sister had an advantage as it was “two against one.”

That was a reference to Serena being in the early stages of pregnancy with her daughter Olympia. “I guess I had a little advantage but it’s going to be hard for me on Friday,” said 36-year-old Serena.

Since Venus won their first ever clash in Australia, Serena, bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, has built up an advantage over the last two decades, enjoying a 17-12 head-to-head superiority. “It’s a tough match to have so early in the tournament. We would have liked to have played later but it is what it is. It’s not the end of the world,” added Serena. Venus, 38, and playing her 80th Slam, notched up her 775th career win by seeing off Giorgi.

However, she was reluctant to discuss Serena when asked to describe the specific challenges. “You’re beating it up now. Any other questions about anything else?” she barked. Azarenka, the 2012 and 2013 runner-up, made the third round for the first time in three years with a 6-1, 6-2 win against Australian 25th seed Daria Gavrilova.

Azarenka was amongst the first players to condemn the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for handing French player Alize Cornet a code violation for changing her shirt on court on Tuesday. The incident sparked an immediate storm over sexism.

The Belarusian said the USTA displayed double standards for sanctioning Cornet while male players routinely remove their shirts courtside when the heat and humidity bite. “If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out, because it was ridiculous,” said Azarenka.

The USTA admitted they were wrong to hand Cornet a warning for slipping off her shirt on court after realising she had put the garment on back-to-front during a heat-break. Cornet said she was stunned that the furore had caused so much controversy and was happy to accept the USTA’s apology.

“I think it’s very fair from them to apologise to me. I think the umpire was probably overwhelmed by the situation,” said Cornet, who insisted that French tennis federation (FFT) president Bernard Giudicelli’s Roland Garros ban on Serena Williams’s catsuit was much worse and genuinely worthy of being deemed ‘sexist’.

 

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One martyred as Navy helicopter crashes in Arabian Sea

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Pakistan Navy personnel was martyred on Friday after a helicopter crashed in the Arabian Sea.

Spokesperson told media that the helicopter was on routine operation when it crashed in the Arabian Sea in a result one crew member was martyred in the incident.

Last month, a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) helicopter crash-landed at Peshawar’s Bacha Khan airport.

Two of the four persons in the helicopter were injured in the incident.

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Aishwarya picks ‘Gulab Jamun’ over Bhansali’s film

Monitoring Desk

MUMBAI: Each time Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali come together for a project, they create magic on the big screen. Films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas and Guzaarish are proof of the same. Not too long ago, speculations were rife that Ash would be collaborating with SLB for his next. But as per the latest development, Aishwarya has reportedly chosen Anurag Kashyap’s Gulab Jamun over Bhansali’s film.

The same was confirmed in a leading daily’s report. The report said, “Aishwarya had to choose between working with Bhansali and sharing screen space with her husband, as the dates for both films were clashing. And she chose the film with her husband. They haven’t worked together in eight years. And more importantly, both of them have fabulous roles in Gulab Jamun. They’re going to be playing characters they’ve never played before.”

Aishwarya and Abhishek were last seen together in Mani Ratnam’s Raavan. Other than this, Abhishek Bachchan will now be seen in Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan.

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Daughter Nysa convinced Kajol to join social media

Monitoring Desk

MUMBAI: Kajol is one of those stars who like to keep her personal life away from public and media.  She did join the social media bandwagon recently but if you think she is one of those stars who likes to put everything out there and you can know everything about her personal life through her posts, then you are wrong.

In her recent conversation with Filmfare, Kajol shared, “I guess, my fans can know me a little better through my social media platforms. Yet, there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t talk about. But whatever I’d like you to know about me is there. I enjoy it up to a point. There are many things that are secret to me. I keep a cap on those. It’s my choice to maintain my privacy. Social media is meant to push you as a brand, meant to push your movies.”

Interestingly, Kajol even revealed that it was her daughter, Nysa, who made her join Instagram, where she is more active. Kajol told, “My daughter (Nysa) was the first to ask me to get on Instagram. I enjoy Instagram, I must say that. But I’m not one of those people who will put up something after every two minutes. I do post pictures about where I am and what I’m doing. You can’t go over the top with it.”

On the work front, Kajol is currently busy promoting her next film, Helicopter Eela. Helmed by Pradeep Sarkar, the film is slated to release on 12th October.

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Oil prices fall on concerns China-U.S. trade conflict

SINGAPORE (Agencies): Oil prices dipped on Friday amid concerns the trade war between the United States and China could intensify, although looming U.S. sanctions against Iran’s oil exports prevented markets from falling further.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $77.70 per barrel at 0232 GMT, down 7 cents from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 3 cents at $70.22 a barrel.

Still, with Venezuelan supply falling sharply and concerns around U.S. sanctions against Iran that will target its oil exports from November, crude markets in August are on track to post a more than 4 percent rise for Brent and a 2 percent increase for WTI.

In a sign of a tightening market, the amount of unsold crude stored in the Atlantic basin has dwindled from around 30 cargoes to just a handful in recent weeks, trade data showed.

Despite this, analysts cautioned that the trade disputes between the United States and other major economies, especially China and the European Union, could start to drag on economic growth and, by extension, fuel demand.

U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to ramp up trade conflict with China and has told aides he is ready to impose tariffs on $200 billion more in Chinese imports as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends next week, several media reported on Thursday.

Meanwhile, China’s Shanghai crude oil futures, launched in March, will see delivery of their first contract on Friday.

The speed of Shanghai crude’s take-up has surprised many traders and analysts.

Among the three major crude benchmarks – WTI, Brent and Shanghai – China’s front-month crude futures now make up a share of almost 15 percent in terms of monthly volumes.

Traders said Shanghai’s fast rise reflects China’s importance as the world’s biggest oil importer. It is also part of a policy by Beijing to increasingly use the yuan currency in global trade, especially during times of economic disputes with the United States.

Since its launch in March, front-month Shanghai crude oil futures have gained almost 10 percent in value to 481 yuan ($70.31) per barrel.

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Coca-Cola to buy Britain’s Costa for $ 5.1 billion

LONDON (Agencies): Coca-Cola Co has agreed to buy the world’s second largest coffee chain Costa from Britain’s Whitbread Plc for an enterprise value of 3.9 billion pounds ($5.1 billion), opening a new front in its push away from traditional sodas.

Whitbread said in a statement on Friday that the deal, which will give Coke almost 4,000 coffee outlets in the UK and across Europe, had been agreed unanimously by the Whitbread board as in the best interests of shareholders.

Whitbread, which had been in the process of demerging its coffee business from its hotel chain, acquired Costa in 1995 for 19 million pounds when it had only 39 shops.

For Coca-Cola, the deal adds to its efforts to move away from fizzy drinks towards more healthier options for increasingly health-conscious consumers.

“Hot beverages is one of the few segments of the total beverage landscape where Coca-Cola does not have a global brand,” Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said. “Costa gives us access to this market with a strong coffee platform” he added.

Whitbread said it will reduce debt and contribute to the pension fund with the proceeds from the deal and further expand its hotel chain Premier Inn in the UK and Germany.

“The announcement today represents a substantial premium to the value that would have been created through the demerger of the business and we expect to return a significant majority of net proceeds to shareholders”, Chief Executive Alison Brittain said.

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Dollar edges up amid US-China trade tensions

TOKYO (Agencies): The dollar edged up against its peers on Friday, finding support as the latest episode of U.S.-China trade tensions dulled investor risk appetite, with weakness in emerging market currencies also helping lift the greenback.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was a shade higher at 94.748. The index had nudged up about 0.15 percent overnight, ending a four-day losing streak.

The greenback, which tends to attract safe-haven bids in times of market turmoil and political tensions, drew its latest swell of support as investors braced for the next round of the U.S.-China trade conflict.

Bloomberg News reported on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump is prepared to quickly ramp up a trade war with China and has told aides he is ready to impose tariffs on $200 billion more in Chinese imports as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends next week.

The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.1662 after losing about 0.3 percent overnight when a rise in Italian government bond yields put additional pressure on the currency.

Italian bond yields spiked on Thursday amid concerns that tax cuts and welfare spending proposed by the country’s ruling coalition could worsen its debt situation. The Italian/German bond yield spread reached its widest since 2013 as a result.

The Turkish lira weakened for its fifth day, last down 1.5 percent at 6.7495 per dollar and creeping back toward the record low of 7.24 per dollar plumbed on Aug. 13.

Argentina’s peso lost nearly one-fifth of its value on Thursday and fell to a record low versus the dollar.

The peso has slid as investors’ faith in President Mauricio’s ability to tackle the economic crisis his country faces has evaporated. A huge hike in interest rates from Argentina’s central bank did little to arrest the peso’s fall.

The South African rand dipped 0.35 percent to 14.76 per dollar after retreating more than 2 percent in overnight trade.

China’s yuan was about 0.15 percent firmer in onshore trade at 6.8344 per dollar after shedding 0.35 percent the previous day.

The Japanese yen stood little changed at 111.000. The yen, another perceived safe haven along with the dollar and Swiss franc, had advanced 0.6 percent on Thursday.

The Swiss currency rose for the sixth successive session to reach 0.9680 franc per dollar, its strongest since mid-April.

The pound stood little changed at $1.3009. Sterling surged 1.2 percent this week, touching a four-week peak of $1.3043 on Thursday, boosted by reduced risk of a no-deal Brexit for Britain.

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Two sentenced to death in PTI’s Zahid Shahid murder case

F.P. Report

KARACHI: A local anti-terrorism court on Friday awarded death sentence to two suspects for the murder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Zahra Shahid.

The ATC, announcing its verdict in the case, awarded death sentences to two suspects identified as Rashid alias ‘Tailor’ and Zahid Abbas Zaidi for murdering the PTI leader.

Two other suspects, Irfan alias Lamba and Kaleem, were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Zahra Shahid, who was the vice president of PTI’s Sindh chapter, was shot dead in May 2013 by gunmen outside her residence in Karachi’s DHA Phase-IV locality, hours before her controversial re-election in National Assembly constituency NA-250.

The convicts in the case belonged to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party and had confessed to the killing, Rangers prosecution team said.

Witnesses at the scene of the incident had also identified the guilty, the prosecutors informed.