T.D.writes: I invested in carbon credits that I bought from MH Carbon Limited, after the company told me that businesses buy these credits. Mine were supposed to be sold in October.
When October came I was told that while I stood to make a 20 per cent profit, if I waited until November this would rise to 25 per cent. It seemed sensible to wait, but then in November, MH Carbon told me no one was buying.
The company added that in April the Government would be introducing legislation that would force businesses to buy carbon credits or face heavy fines. I invested all my savings, so now I am extremely worried.
I have yet to see any ordinary investor make a penny from trading in carbon credits, and I am afraid you are not going to be the first – though I do have some good news for you.
MH Carbon, based in the City of London, is run by its sole director Jeffrey Razaq, so I asked him whether it was true you were first told your credits were showing a 20 per cent profit, with a promise of more to come, yet suddenly they could not be sold at all.
He told me he had bought the company on November 14 last year, and that the broker who dealt with you had already left by then. There was no record of what you had been told, he said.
Well, I asked, what about the idea that the Government was going to force companies to buy carbon credits from investors like you? Razaq came up with an announcement made last June, but he had the honesty to admit that all this does is make major companies report their greenhouse gas emissions. By no stretch of the imagination does it force them to buy credits.
Fair enough, but what about the claim on MH Carbon’s website that ‘the EU carbon price may triple by 2013’? Did it? And even if it did, there are two different types of credit – one traded by governments and international corporations, and ‘voluntary credits’ sold by firms such as MH Carbon to people like you – so which one saw the massive price rise?
Razaq conceded there was no threefold price rise. It was simply a prediction, and it certainly did not apply to your ‘voluntary credits’ anyway. He said: ‘As this figure has not been achieved, I have taken the decision to remove reference to it from the website.’
I did wonder how much Razaq actually knows about carbon credit trading. Enquiries show he has previously worked as a director of companies authorised by the Financial Services Authority, and licensed by the Office of Fair Trading, but these were in unrelated fields.
So, I asked him where he learnt about carbon credits. Nowhere, came the answer, with Razaq telling me he has not worked in the sector before. The good news – as you already know – is that after I contacted him Razaq rang you up and asked what you wanted.
You told him you would settle for your money back, and forget about any mythical profits. And to my pleasant surprise, you now have your £9,960 savings back.
Razaq told me: ‘I personally believe that the regulation of the carbon market by the FSA would be a welcome step to provide investors with greater protection and peace of mind with these alternative investments.’
Of course, he is absolutely right. As things stand, carbon credits are a minefield for investors and a playground for conmen. The FSA is well aware of this, and officials complain privately that they are hog-tied by existing laws that were passed by Parliament more than a decade ago, when carbon credits barely existed.
And that means it is up to Treasury Ministers to find a way to bring in regulation and stop the rip-offs. I won’t hold my breath.
Threats from First Utility after it makes a mess of simple bill
Mrs P.A.P.writes: I have been trying for a year to resolve a problem with First Utility Energy. I was a customer for two years and had many problems with its accounts department. I was persuaded to remain for the second year only by the promise of a £100 loyalty bonus. When the time came, the bonus offered was £10 short. First Utility also owed me £5 in bank charges because of its errors, but when I deducted this from a bill, it caused untold grief. I switched supplier last year and since then I have been trying to get an accurate final statement.
First Utility’s systems do not seem able to cope with normal arithmetic. The company agreed that it owed you £5, but when you deducted this from a bill, its computer showed you were in arrears.
Then several weeks ago, First Utility said it had made a payment straight into your bank account, yet nothing arrived.
Finally, you received a demand for £84, with the threat of debt collectors and legal action if you failed to pay. There was no mention of the money First Utility owed you, and you were so worried by the threats that you paid up.
A few weeks ago I contacted the company’s chief executive. Foolishly, First Utility emailed you immediately, saying it was reluctant to deal with me, even though you had asked it to do so.
You then received a cheque for £228. There was nothing to show how this was calculated, though it was described as a ‘dual-fuel discount’.
Finally, First Utility told me: ‘A failure on our part meant that Mrs P did suffer a delay in resolving the payment of her dual-fuel discount. She also experienced problems with payment methods and dates.’
The company has acted to ensure other customers are not affected, and by the time you read this you will have received a written apology.
Share con victim in new attack
K.G.G.writes: I own a small number of shares that I bought some years ago when they were marketed by a boiler room firm of brokers. Unexpectedly, I have now been contacted by a law firm in Birmingham. The lawyers say they can sell the shares for me at a good profit, but in order to proceed I need an International Corporate Trading Number, and as I am not registered for this already, it will cost £5,000. This sounds like a scam. Is it?
Oh yes, this is a scam. The offer you received comes from Miller & Cole, solicitors said to be based in Corporation Street in the centre of Birmingham, and it is signed by Mr Jonathan Lloyd who describes himself as ‘Senior Solicitor, International Corporate Finance’.
He says the £5,000 fee is a legally required deposit, explaining: ‘This is in accordance with regulations in place to safeguard against money laundering, fraud prevention, tax evasion and the further mis-selling of corporate stock.’
Even leaving aside the rotten English that makes it look as if there are regulations against fraud prevention, rather than the opposite, the letter itself is hogwash.
There is no such deposit scheme. In fact, there is no trace of Jonathan Lloyd in Corporation Street, and no such law firm as Miller & Cole in Birmingham or anywhere else in the country, according to Law Society records.
The only genuine thing is the phone number in Birmingham, but modern technology means this could be redirected to anywhere in the world. I did ring it, but my call went straight to an answering machine and nobody rang me back.
And curiously, the fax number given by Miller & Cole has cropped up before, in a similar scam that used a New York address but asked for fees to be sent to a bank account in Cyprus, which is probably where your money would have ended up had you not smelt a rat.
LONDON: Many global commodity markets fell this week as traders worried that the Cyprus situation would reignite the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis and dent global demand for raw materials. However, precious metal gold won ground as many investors sought a safe place to park their cash.
"Gold prices have firmed as events in Cyprus have unfolded this week, but the base metals complex and oil prices have come under pressure," said Barclays analyst Suki Cooper.
"A recovery in investor risk appetite is passing commodities markets by. The growth outlook is still not strong enough to support the kind of broad-based pick-up already seen in many other asset classes."
Cyprus is locked in emergency talks with a troika of lenders to save the eurozone member's banking system and economy in general from ruin, and the option of a tax on bank deposits back on the table.
The European Union has given Nicosia until Monday to raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.47 billion) to unlock loans worth 10 billion euros or face being choked from European Central Bank emergency funding in a move that would bankrupt the island.
OIL: World crude prices sank as fears intensified over Cyprus. The market also fell as traders banked profits despite strong manufacturing data in China, which is the world's biggest consumer of energy.
The European Central Bank warned on Thursday it was ready to pull the plug on emergency funding for Cyprus banks as the island's politicians scrambled to raise billions of euros to head off financial meltdown.
In another blow to sentiment, the eurozone Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), published by London-based Markit, showed that the German economy was starting to be affected by the problems in the rest of Europe and that the French slowdown was accelerating.
Overall the eurozone PMI, a leading indicator of growth, fell to four-month low of 46.5 points in March against 47.9 in February.
"Concerns about demand for oil intensified following the release of disappointing eurozone PMI readings and after the ECB issued an ultimatum to Cyprus to come up with a bailout plan by Monday or else it would suspend its provision of emergency liquidity," said GFT analyst Fawad Razaqzada.
Prices had rallied in New York on Wednesday after the US Department of Energy reported an unexpected decline of 1.3 million barrels in oil stocks in the week ending March 15.
That confounded market expectations for a large gain of 1.7 million barrels, suggesting stronger-than-expected demand in the United States, which is the world's top crude consumer.
As many people as possible are now needed to sign up at www.nelincs.gov.uk/readytoswitch before Monday 8 April 2013 and use their joint buying power to help drive down their home energy costs.
NELC has teamed up with more than 12 other councils across the country to make it easier for people to switch energy providers.
All you need to do is visit www.nelincs.gov.uk/readytoswitch and provide your contact details, the name of your supplier and details of your current energy usage and tariff.
If you don't have access to the internet, you could ask a friend or family member to register you (up to five separate addresses can be registered with the same email).
Staff at your local library, Customer Access Point and Children's Centre can also help if you don't have internet access – but remember to bring a copy of a recent gas and electricity bill with you.
In other parts of the country people have saved between £60 and £200 a year on their bills and the more people that sign up, the bigger the potential savings.
This is one of the largest schemes of its kind in the UK and by teaming up with other councils, NELC is helping to create a massive pool of potential customers that energy companies bid against to supply.
The councils are working with a specialist company called iChoosr who will negotiate with the energy companies on behalf of everyone signed up to the scheme to get the best tariff possible.
Over 420,000 participants have already switched suppliers thanks to iChoosr's collective switching schemes in three different countries.
Registration for the scheme will stay open until Monday 8 April 2013.
Energy suppliers are then invited to bid in a reverse auction to provide power to everyone who has signed up – estimated to be 21,000 people nationwide.
The auction will take place on 9 April and the results announced from 15 April. Offers are then sent either as an email or a letter and those who registered will have about three weeks to decide whether or not to accept the deal.
You do not have to commit once the offer has been made. More auctions will take place in the coming months so there will be other chances to take part.
At the moment the scheme is not open to businesses but it is hoped that similar benefits will be offered to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the near future.
Cllr Ros James, portfolio holder for Housing and Wellbeing at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: "The beauty of Ready to Switch is that it uses people power to get you cheaper power. We need as many people as possible to come together and sign up to this scheme, so when you do sign up please also ask your friends and family to do the same. People are already making big savings with this scheme in other areas. There's nothing to lose because if the offer's not right for you, you're not under any obligation to accept it. But if the offer is right, you could make savings of £200 per year."
Cllr Peter Wheatley, portfolio holder for Regeneration and Environment, said: "We're making it much easier for people to shop around for their home gas and electricity supply. With Ready to Switch you don't have to trawl the internet looking for offers, just fill in a quick online form from the link at www.nelincs.gov.uk/readytoswitch and wait for the offers to come to you. It's a hassle-free way to get a good deal on your home gas and electricity bills. There's no commitment when you register, if the offer doesn't suit you then you don't have to accept it."
WASHINGTON (AP)— Leaders from across the District of Columbia municipal government gathered last April for a summit on cybersecurity, where they agreed in writing on the need to improve computer safety training for its workers. Yet nearly a year later, no organized, across-the-board training is offered for employees even though electronic data theft from governments is on the rise.
Information technology experts see training as a vital component of cybersecurity and D.C. officials acknowledge their own employees should be better educated on computer use, especially as governments face increasingly sophisticated cyber-threats and as human errors have contributed to widespread data breaches.
But officials say they’ve put plans for such training on the back-burner while they continue efforts to improve network security, including through new tools and products as well as additional levels of monitoring and inspection. Those improvements are more efficient and longer-lasting than educating thousands of workers who may not be in their jobs permanently, contends Rob Mancini, the District’s chief technology officer
“You don’t start talking about what people should do unless you know you’ve got protections in place to help,” Mancini said in an interview. “You don’t go educating users until you’ve got something behind it.”
The federal government has identified cybersecurity as a critical priority, unveiling new efforts to fight the theft of trade secrets and discourage intellectual property theft. In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama urged Congress to pass legislation to help protect computer networks from attack and warned that American enemies are exploring ways to sabotage the power grid, financial institutions and air traffic control system. Companies including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Apple have been recently hacked, as have financial services companies that maintain credit card account information.
State governments, repositories of personnel information, financial data, emergency operations plans, health care records and other documents, are particularly vulnerable targets. A 2012 study by the Deloitte consulting firm and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers found that less than a quarter of the state information security chiefs felt confident in their state’s ability to protect data from an outside threat.
D.C. officials, recognizing the problem, organized an exercise last April to gauge the government’s cyber-attack readiness.
New York (HedgeCo.net) - The trustee for failed hedge fund Petters Group, Douglas Kelley, has sued the Epsilon-Westford funds founded by Steve Stevanovic, according to Bloomberg.
The bankruptcy trustee is seeking to recoup over $3.2 billion to cover the company’s debt, Bloomberg said, ”Seventeen funds affiliated with the financier’s Westford Investment Management LLC and Epsilon Investment Management LLC were named as defendants in the complaint filed by Kelley.”
“We terminated our relationship with Petters a full 18 months before it became known that Petters was involved in fraudulent activity.” an attorney for the Epsilon-Westford funds said in a statement, “We did so because we elected to invest our capital in other enterprises, not because we believed or had cause to believe that the Petters enterprises were engaged in fraudulent activities.”
Petters and his hedge fund, Petters Group Worldwide LLC was convicted in December 2000, of all 20 criminal counts, adding up to a $3.5 billion fraud.
Market Intelligence What are the leading causes of today's energy shortages? What role does energy security play? Are new developments in energy efficiency and energy storage the answer? This report reviews these issues and discusses some of the emerging smart technologies that will address generation capacity shortfalls. Energy security can be defined as the role of affordable, reliable sources of energy in the overall national security of a given country. As demand rises and reserves become costlier, governments will increasingly find energy security to be a challenging goal. Political factors (both domestic and foreign), and environmental concerns provide further complications. Trends to date indicate that if solutions to these problems are found they will likely be a networked basket of diverse, non-centralized "smart tech" approaches. This report frames the state of energy generation today and discusses some of the likely candidate technologies that will form the solution. These include new developments in energy storage and energy efficiency.
Primary Focus This report provides essential insight into the reasons for power generation shortfalls and detailed intelligence on the technologies that may address them. Major topics covered include:
• Energy Security A briefing on the factors that effect a state's capacity to ensure energy security
• Power Generation Capacity o Including an analysis of current global capacity and future forecasts • Fuel Reserves o With a look at global supplies of oil, natural gas, coal, biomass, hydrand uranium
• Today's Power Grid Information on the composition of the modern grid
• Renewable Energy Including the challenges of integrating renewable energy intthe grid
• Energy Storage A briefing on the major companies and technologies
• Energy Efficiency Products A briefing on the major companies and technologies.
Reasons tPurchase Smart Technology Report
• Gain an in-depth understanding of the crucial issues surrounding energy security
• Gain insight intcurrent and future global power generation capacity
• Access data on global fuel reserves • Understand the composition of the modern power grid
• Understand the challenges associated with integrating renewable energy intthe grid
• Be briefed on new developments in storage technology and the major companies involved
• Be briefed on new developments in energy efficiency products and the major companies involved.
Report Highlights Typically, discussions of energy security focus on reserves of oil and gas. "Peak oil" (or the point at which oil production will begin tdecline) does not appear thave occurred yet, with actual reserves of oil and gas expected tlast another 46 and 59 years respectively based on current rates of consumption. This is in part due tnew discoveries and advancements in technology that makes the extraction of known but challenging reserves cost-effective. However, companies are growing more reluctant texplore and develop new reserves due tvolatile prices and uncertainty over future demand. Geopolitical risk can influence prices as well, with events in unstable regions rippling outwards taffect other nations. Advancements in energy storage technologies could mean better integration of intermittent renewable energy intthe grid. Modern grid systems require predicable and controllable flows of energy that cannot be provided by renewable sources unless the intermittent generation was stored for later use. In addition, storage technologies could allow delay in the production of additional generating capacity, mitigating the need for expensive "peaking" plants tmeet spikes in demand. Energy efficiency, particularly regarding power generation, industrial demand, transportation and the residential or commercial sector can alshelp address these issues. The reuse of waste heat in power generation and industrial facilities, micrhybrid vehicles equipped with stop/start technology, advances in conventional vehicle engines, advances in lighting and re-evaluations of indoor climate control practices are just some of the up-and-coming developments that may be major players in the future.
Since setting up business in 2009, Norman Crowley's company – his third since he retired at 29 – has built up revenues of €30m.
CROWLEY Carbon is located in the magnificent Powerscourt House and Gardens in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. Set up in 2009, by Norman Crowley, the company helps businesses and organisations reduce their energy usage.
It's not Norman Crowley's first enterprise. In fact, this is the fourth business he has set up. He even made enough money from the sale of his first company to enable him to retire. That was when he was only 29. He later set up and sold a further two businesses before establishing Crowley Carbon.
I am fascinated to learn what drives him, what special ingredient he has that seems to guarantee success in business and why he has chosen the energy-efficiency sector for his latest venture.
"Crowley Carbon is a new type of energy-services company," Norman explains. "We have developed a new heating boiler system and building management software which, together, dramatically improves efficiency and can help reduce energy usage in buildings, by as much as 80 per cent."
Norman explains that he has worked hard to assemble some of the brightest and most experienced staff in the industry. "Some of these guys are literally geniuses within the energy-reduction sector," Norman tells me proudly.
The company seems to have identified a real need in the marketplace. "Irish companies are increasingly competing in a global market, and against products from countries where energy and other costs are much lower. So Irish businesses now have to focus proactively on reducing their own energy costs if they want to remain competitive," he says.
Some of the company's current customers include Vodafone, Dawn Meats, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Intel. They are also beginning to work with schools, universities, hospitals, hotels and government departments.
"The Government is spending €850m on energy within schools, hospitals and government departments," Norman tells me. "We believe we could dramatically reduce that figure using our cutting-edge technologies."
With offices in Ireland, the UK and Australia, the company currently employs 40 full-time staff globally. This figure regularly increases, to as many as 150, depending on the number and type of projects the company is working on.
The company's turnover has been growing steadily too, and this year it will see revenues cross €30m.
Before Christmas, they began working in Dubai. "We are installing energy-management systems in structures such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, the Princess Tower, the tallest residential building in the world and Dubai Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world," Norman tells me. The contract is worth a hefty €64m in revenues to the company over the next three years.
However, for Norman, there's more to the business than just making money. He is incredibly proud to be Irish and, while the Dubai contract alone will create an additional 35 jobs in Ireland, Norman wants to create even more jobs.
In addition, it frustrates him to see energy being wasted unnecessarily when the world is facing the prospect of dwindling energy resources. "My journey as an entrepreneur has brought me great success, but it has also made me realise that I want to do something which can have a positive impact on the world," says Norman. "With Crowley Carbon, I believe we are doing that."
Norman grew up on a farm in Clonakilty in west Cork. He initially trained to become a welder. In his early 20s, he set a goal for himself that he would make enough money, by the age of 30, to be able to retire. In 1996, at the age of 26, he founded his first technology business, Trinity Commerce, one of the first e-commerce service companies in the world.
Three years later, the company had grown to more than 150 staff, spread across five countries. Shortly afterwards, he sold the business to Eircom, making enough money in the process to achieve his ambition to retire. He was then 29.
However, his retirement was short lived. Restlessness and boredom quickly set in. Within months, he was itching to start a new venture. It was a chance meeting with a branch manager of one of the William Hill betting offices in the UK that gave him the idea for his next business.
The branch manager explained to Norman that they had four gaming or slot machines in each of the company's 3,000 branches. To prevent customers getting bored, the company would move these machines around to other branches every two months and replace them with different ones.
Doing that for 3,000 branches seemed like such a waste of time and money, Norman thought to himself. He suggested to the betting chain that he could develop software-based games that could be loaded on to to the existing machines. Because they would be hosted on a remote server, they could be changed regularly without having to move the machines.
He got the go-ahead and so Inspired Gaming was born. Located in the UK, the business was a runaway success. In 2005, in a daring move to expand more rapidly, he borrowed £150m (€174m) and bought the largest operator of gaming machines in the UK which, at the time, was 80 times bigger than his own company. By 2006, Inspired Gaming had become the largest player in the world in the area of server-based gaming and was employing 2,500 staff. The company was also generating annual sales of €350m and a whopping profit of €100m. That year Norman floated his company on the London Stock Exchange.
It was a real rollercoaster lifestyle for the young Cork man. He spent the weekends at home in Ireland and the weekdays in London. Every third week he flew to Hong Kong, by private jet, to visit customers throughout Asia and every 12 weeks he flew to Australia.
In 2007, Norman thought "he had arrived". He received an offer from an Icelandic firm to buy his company for €1bn. Months of negotiations then followed. December 20, 2007 is a day that Norman will never forget. "I was nervously sitting in the lobby of a London hotel waiting for the phone to ring to say that the papers had eventually been signed by the buyers and that the deal had gone through," he says. However, when the phone finally rang, it was not the news Norman either wanted or expected to hear.
The Icelandic company explained that Iceland had effectively gone bust and that their company did not, now, have the money to conclude the deal. He had been two hours away from getting one billion euro.
The following months were traumatic. The share price of his business dropped and a mix of the smoking ban and the downturn in the economy, only added to his woes. Determined to fight on, he secured contracts with both the Italian and Brazilian lotteries for their gaming machines.
Within six months the company was back on track. Shortly afterwards, Inspired Gaming was sold, this time to a UK-based private equity firm. He had now retired for the second time.
At the same time as he set up Inspired Gaming, Norman also co-founded another company, The Cloud, which developed public WiFi hotspots across the UK. He also sold that business in 2005 to venture-capital firm 3i. It was subsequently bought, in 2011, by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB for around €80m.
Not everything went perfectly for Norman, however. His less than healthy lifestyle caused his weight to balloon by more than four stone. A health scare, which saw him suffer temporary paralysis of his left arm, was a wake-up call to the fact that he was simply living too fast. A period of reflection followed and Norman adjusted to a healthier pace, a healthier diet and even took up running. Like many, his scare turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
So what's next for Carbon Crowley?
"I want to grow the company to become the largest energy-efficiency company in the world," he says confidently.
"And ultimately sell it?" I ask. "Of course," he laughs.
"I am also excited about a new venture-capital fund we have just set up to help incubate start-ups in the clean tech sector," he tells me.
So what has been the secret to his success? His advice comes quickly and with a, sort of, knowing smile. "Be optimistic" he tells me.
"Think big. Find a solution to a big problem. Believe in yourself and what you want to achieve. Build a great team around you to help you. Tell the world what you want to accomplish and then just go and do it," he says.
He now looks relaxed, lean and fit. And though his pace may have slowed a little, it's clear that he has lost none of his focus, ambition or determination. If success leaves clues, then I think there is much that we can learn from Norman Crowley.
LOMBARD On Monday morning, the Village of Lombard issued an alert to residents, making them aware of a currently-circulating electricity aggregation scam.
According to the village, some residents have been contacted by solicitors going door-to-door, giving incorrect information about the village's electricity aggregation program.
These solicitors are telling residents that there is a second phase to the aggregation program that includes natural gas suppliers. This information is untrue. The electricity aggregation program is only for electric energy, and there are no alternatives for natural gas or other utilities.
Last spring, the village entered into a contract with First Energy Solutions to provide electricity to residents and businesses. Last year, all electric accounts were automatically transferred to First Energy Solutions, aside from the individuals who chose to opt out of the program.
Residents are reminded that only First Energy Solutions is affiliated with the Village of Lombard.
Solicitors coming to Lombard are required to register with the Village and a background check is performed before they receive a badge and the authorization to solicit in town.
Anyone who thinks they might have been a victim to this scam is asked to contact the Lombard Police Department at 630-873-4400.
Denmark is looking to invest in sectors such as water management, renewable energy and education here in the country.
According to Freddy Svane, Ambassador of Denmark, Memoranda of Understanding have been inked with the Delhi Jal Board and Gujarat Water Resources Development Corporation for water management contracts.
“Chances of arsenic contamination and wastages are pretty high here in India and we can provide a solution in this regard,” Svane said. He was speaking at an interactive session organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
According to the Ambassador, renewable energy is yet another area of Danish business expertise. Nearly 25 per cent of Denmark’s energy requirements are met through wind energy.
This apart, the country was keen to explore tie-ups in the field of education. Indian IT remains an area of interest.
According to him, bilateral trade between the two countries in 2012 (calendar year) accounted for nearly $1 billion. While Indian exports to Denmark include pharmaceuticals, garments, agri-products and machinery, Indian imports include machinery.
FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
Batting for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and India, Svane said that bilateral trade between India and Denmark was likely to improve once FTA were in place.
Besides Denmark, the 27-member bloc EU consists of countries like Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Greece and Italy. They together form India’s largest trading partner.
“We don’t have any issues on outsourcing. We are a strong and ardent supporter of globalisation which means we want joint solutions,” he said.
The India-EU free trade agreement plans to bring down tariffs (on goods) and liberalise trade in services.
“We hope that the FTA will be in place by the end of this year,” he said.
The talks were set to conclude sometime in 2011. But differences between the two sides have led to the delays.
A ROUNDUP of news in finance, economics and business from around the world:
PARIS - The Europe-wide scandal over horsemeat sold as beef has spread as leading French retailers pulled products from their shelves and France promised to have the results of an inquiry within days.
STOCKHOLM - Frozen food producer Findus Nordic says it will sue French firm Comigel and its suppliers after horsemeat was found in its beef lasagnes.
BUCHAREST - President Traian Basescu says he fears lasting damage to Romania's reputation if a Romanian meat supplier is found to be at fault over Europe's spiralling horsemeat scandal.
WASHINGTON - The US is vulnerable to cyberattacks that could shut down financial services or destroy information that companies need for dailyoperations, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says.
LONDON - Scotland should keep the pound if it votes to leave the United Kingdom in the 2014 referendum, First Minister Alex Salmond's economic advisers have concluded in a report due out on Monday.
LONDON - Barclays boss Antony Jenkins will attempt to break from the bank's scandal-hit past this week by announcing the closure of its tax avoidance unit and the cull of about 2000 investment banking jobs, it has been reported.
DUBAI - Dubai's Emirates Airlines says its year to March 2013 income is seen rising by 18 to 20 per cent, as the emirate officially opened the world's first concourse dedicated to Airbus A380 superjumbos.
MADRID - The Americas and Asia are the main engines of growth for Melia Hotels International, although the Spanish and European markets remain important also, the Spanish firm's vice president for development, Maria Zarraluqui, says.
WELLINGTON - Eastern Bay of Plenty electricity lines company Horizon Energy has chopped its forecast earnings because of regulation costs, buying its Aquaheat business and warned there may be more to come due to its exposure to the Mainzeal collapse.
WELLINGTON - The New Zealand dollar recovered some ground after figures showed a shrinking US trade deficit and gains on Wall Street helped stoke risk appetite.
NEW YORK - Crude oil prices closed mixed on Friday as investors weighed a big supply in the US, encouraging trade data from China and renewed tensions with Iran.
SYDNEY - The Australian dollar is slightly higher after China and the US both reported improvements to their international trade balances.
SYDNEY - The Australian market looks set to open lower despite gains on US and European markets at the end of the week.
BRISBANE - Several hundred coal haulage workers have ended a 48-hour strike at Australia's largest private rail freight firm Pacific National.