B.C. plane crash kills 2

Two people are dead after a plane crashed in Vernon, B.C., Saturday afternoon.

vernon bcVernon, B.C.

Police say the small twin-engine aircraft came down in a sports field adjacent to the airport shortly after takeoff.

“It appears the airplane touched the ground, then cart-wheeled and then burst into flames on contact,” RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk said.

“I’m told there was two people on board. Both perished in the crash.”

The victims have not been identified.

No one else was injured in the crash.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is en route to the crash site.

Libyans finish historic vote

Jubilant Libyans chose a new parliament Saturday in their first nationwide vote in decades, but violence and protests in the restive east underscored the challenges ahead as the oil-rich North African nation struggles to restore stability after the ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Polls closed Saturday night and It will be a week before results are known.

One person was killed and two wounded in a gunbattle between security forces and anti-election protesters in the eastern city of Ajdabiya, according to the head of the election commission. Nouri al-Abari said the polling center targeted by the protesters was later reopened and voting commenced normally.

The vote capped a chaotic transition that has exposed major fault lines ranging from the east-west divide to efforts by Islamists to assert power.

Lines formed outside polling centers more than an hour before they opened in the capital Tripoli, with policemen and soldiers standing guard and searching voters and election workers before they entered.

The historic vote was tempered by boycott calls, the burning of ballots and attacks on polling centres in Libya’s restive east. It was the latest unrest in a chaotic transition thathas exposed major fault lines in the oil-rich North African nation — the east-west divide and efforts by Islamists to assert power.

Officials say 101 of more than 1,500 polling stations were unable to open.

“I have a strange but beautiful feeling today,” dentist Adam Thabet said as he waited his turn to cast a ballot. “We are free at last after years of fear. We knew this day would come, but we were afraid it would take a lot longer.”

The election for a 200-seat parliament, which will be tasked with forming a new government, is a key milestone after a bitter civil war that ended Gadhafi’s four-decade rule.

But the desert nation of 6 million people has experienced a rocky transition since Gadhafi was killed by rebel forces in his home city of Sirte in late October. Armed militias operate independently, refusing to be brought under the umbrella of a national army, and deepening regional and tribal divisions erupt into violence with alarming frequency.

Growing resentment in the east — which was the cradle of last year’s uprising — over perceived domination by Tripoli in the west has threatened to tear the country apart.

Helicopter shot down

On Saturday, protesters torched ballot boxes in 14 out of 19 polling centres in the eastern town of Ajdabiya, said Ibrahim Fayed, a former rebel commander in the area.

On the eve of the vote, gunmen shot down a helicopter carrying polling materials near the eastern city of Benghazi, birthplace of last year’s revolution, killing one election worker on board, according to Saleh Darhoub, a spokesman for the ruling National Transitional Council. The crew survived after a crash landing.

The violence continued Saturday, with protesters, some armed, attacking polling centres in the early hours in the eastern cities of Ajdabiya, Brega and Ras Lanouf, ransacking them and setting ballot papers ablaze.

Nouri al-Abar, the head of the election commission, told reporters in Tripoli that 94 per cent of polling centres nationwide were open but acknowledged that “security conditions” prevented ballots from reaching some areas and ballots were destroyed in other cases. He did not provide further details.

There are four major contenders in the Libyan race, ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood-linked party and another Islamist coalition on one end of the spectrum to a secular-minded party led by a Western-educated former rebel prime minister on the other.

The laws allocate the east less than a third of the parliamentary seats, with the rest going to the western region that includes Tripoli and the sparsely settled south.

Flush with money, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction party has led one of the best organized and most visible election campaigns, and is hoping to become a political force in post-Gadhafi Libya like the Islamists of Egypt and Tunisia.

Three other parties also are expected to perform well: Formerprime minister Mahmoud Jibril’s secular Alliance of National Forces, former jihadist and rebel commander Abdel-Hakim Belhaj’s Al-Watan and the National Front party, one of Libya’s oldest political groups, known for organizing several failed assassination attempts against Gadhafi.

© The Associated Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

Web theatre firm puts British talent on show

Digital Theatre, a business founded by former film executives nearly three years ago, is the first investment made by Ingenious Ventures’ Media Opportunities Fund. The fund – estimated to reach £20m – is still raising money and will make acquisitions in design, creative, fashion and media industries.

The investment in Digital Theatre, initially £750,000, will help it expand the number of theatres it serves in Britain and potentially overseas. It already has 15 theatres signed up in the UK and viewers in 155 countries.

Robert Delamere, the company’s chief executive, said: “This is about democratising access to the theatre. We are exporting great British art.”

Digital Theatre uses multiple camera angles and high- definition technology to ensure viewers get a similar experience to those in theatres.

Patrick Bradley, Ingenious Venture’s chief executive, said: “Digital Theatre absolutely fits with the core of what we want to do. Despite all the troubles for the economy, Britain has a thriving creative sector that is worth investing in.”

Tesco shocks rivals with U-turn on UK store openings

In April, following January’s first profit warning in 20 years, Tesco unveiled a £1bn investment plan to turn around its UK performance, after three consecutive quarters of falling underlying sales.

This realignment of its capital expenditure away from a rapid opening programme has seen Tesco halt advanced discussions with developers to open stores in at least 10 locations, including Coalville, Leicestershire, and Eltham, south London. Sources at rival supermarkets said Tesco’s U-turns were “unprecedented”, following years of relentless expansion that has seen the grocer grow its share of the UK market to a seemingly unassailable 30 per cent-plus.

A Tesco spokesman said: “As we said in April, we will continue to open new space for customers in all formats from Extras to Express, including major new developments in Woolwich, Gateshead and Streatham. It is right that we discuss plans with local authorities first and we won’t comment on speculation about individual developments.”

Tesco is slashing the space it opens in the UK by 38 per cent to 1.5 million square feet this financial year.

Meanwhile, Marks Spencer is expected to unveil its weakest quarterly trading figures for three years at its annual meeting on Tuesday, amid renewed speculation that Kate Bostock, its executive director of general merchandise, could be on the way out. The retailer’s underlying UK sales are forecast to fall by 6.7 per cent in its first quarter. MS declined to comment.

Marketing ban lifted for Games firms

Business leaders were furious that firms who worked on building the stadium and the Olympic Village could not promote their involvement for 12 years, under restrictions imposed by the International Olympic Committee. But last week, after a report by Sir John Armitt, chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, recommended the ban be lifted in September, once the Games were over, the Government agreed to back the business campaign.

David Cameron, in a speech last week, said it was “vital we don’t allow rules on Olympic marketing to block companies from making the most of that success”.

Boeing ‘is set to overtake Airbus sales’

Speaking ahead of the start of tomorrow’s Farnborough International Airshow, the most important date in the industry’s calendar, Mr McNerney conceded that Boeing and Airbus’s duopoly in the $100bn-a-year aircraft market could be broken by the Chinese as soon as 2017.

Any sales defeat for Airbus’s owner Eads could hurt the UK, as around 140,000 people are directly or indirectly employed through the group’s wing manufacturing work in Broughton, North Wales, and Filton, near Bristol.

Although Airbus has received more orders for its aircraft than Boeing for each of the past nine years, the US group has outsold the group by four times in the first quarter of 2012. This is partly explained by the impact of the fuel-efficient 737 MAX, which Boeing unveiled last year as an alternative to Airbus’s hugely popular A320neo.

Mr McNerney said: “I think we will, in all likelihood, pull slightly ahead of them [Airbus], either this year or next… But, you know, over the years we’ve been ahead sometimes; they’ve been ahead recently. And I think there’s a good chance that we will pull ahead for a number of years.”

He admitted to some regret at not launching the MAX six-to-12 months earlier, as Airbus has “some advantages as the first mover” in the fuel-efficient aircraft market. Demand for these aeroplanes is on the rise as fuel prices soar and emissions targets spread wider.

Airbus and Boeing have been the subject of long-running trade disputes between the European Union and the US over state aid. And both have been found by the World Trade Organisation to have received billions of dollars in state subsidies and loans.

Much of this has been played out in public. Just last week the companies traded words on the matter, but Mr McNerney tried to play peacemaker ahead of Farnborough. He claimed “respect” for Airbus and said that “I never thought our relationship was particularly bad.”

Eads has privately voiced concerns that the dispute has helped fledgling manufacturers develop in countries that almost certainly provide state aid, to the extent that the duopoly could be cracked.

China has been developing the Comac, which is in the narrow-body family of aircraft, the single-aisle model loved by commercial operators for their short-haul flights.

Mr McNerney said: “Some time in the next five-to-15 years, in my judgement, there’ll be a legitimate competitor in the narrow-body from the Chinese.”

Saudi dairy major posts 8.7% rise in Q2 profit

Saudi Arabian dairy and food producer Almarai Co posted on Saturday an 8.7 percent year-on-year rise in its second quarter net profit.

The Gulf’s largest dairy firm made SR379.5m ($101.2m) in the three months ending June 30, compared with SR349.3m in the same period a year earlier, it said.

Almarai said the rise in second-quarter net profit was due to increased sales in all sectors as well as fully consolidating International Dairy Juice Ltd, in which Almarai now holds a majority stake. “Sales have increased by SR164.6m as a result of this first time consolidation,” it said.

Operational profit for the second quarter increased by 7 percent to SR434.6m compared with SR405.8m in the same period a year earlier.

Almarai raised SR1bn through its first sukuk, or Islamic bond, in March, which it said was 4.7 times oversubscribed.

In May the dairy firm’s board approved a SR15.7bn, five-year investment plan, that will draw on finance from bank loans and Islamic bonds.

The money will replace the company’s existing investments base and fund expansion between 2013 to 1017 of its operations in farming, manufacturing, distributio nand logistics, it said.

Almarai has been keen to expand its footprint outside its core presence in the Gulf region. In December it acquired Fondomonte SA, which owns and operates firms in Argentina, to secure feed for its dairy herd and poultry business.

Doha Film Institute chief leaves to set up agency

Doha Film Institute’s executive director Amanda Palmer has stepped down to launch a talent agency and small production company.

During her tenure, DFI held three editions of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival and launched various educational and cultural initiatives, including film financing for Middle Eastern and international projects.

“Amanda played an instrumental role in growing DTFF and positioning DFI as a recognized film entity over the past three years,” said DFI chair Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al-Thani in a statement.

“Under her leadership, DFI has established many successful relationships with key industry professionals and other international organisations, which we will continue to build on.”

The Doha Film Institute is an umbrella organisation bringing all of Qatar s various film initiatives under a single banner.

Last year, DFI also announced its first international co-production Black Gold, with Quinta Communications – a $55m Arabian family epic helmed by acclaimed director Jean-Jacques Annaud, and starring Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Tahar Rahim and Mark Strong.

Saudi shares close higher despite oil price dip

Saudi shares closed higher on Saturday, lifted by gains in the petrochemical sector.

The all-share added 0.4 percent to 6,860 points and the petrochemical stocks added 0.3 percent to 5,875 points.

Shares in Almarai Co gained 1.2 percent after it posted an 8.7 percent rise in second-quarter net profit.

Property firm Dar al-Arkan shares closed 2 percent lower after it posted an 11 percent rise in net profit, but missed analyst forecasts.

Brent crude prices fell sharply on Friday after a report showing trepid US jobs growth in June reinforced concerns that a sluggish global economy will curb demand for petroleum. US crude fell more than 3 percent and posted a 51 cent weekly loss.