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Swede in terrorist list denied entry

PHILSTAR

A SWEDISH national whose name is included in an international list of suspected terrorists was denied entry into the country, the Bureau of Immigration reported on Thursday. His three companions on a flight from Singapore were also barred from entering through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last February 5. Grifton SP. Medina, the BI’s port operations division chief, said the passengers were booked on the first flight back to their port of origin. The alleged terrorist’s identity was not disclosed for security reasons, Mr. Medina said. “He is just one of thousands of international terrorists whose names were included in the shared database containing information supplied by the various law enforcement and intelligence agencies here and abroad,” he said. State agents said the four were of Iraqi descent from Iraq’s Kurdistan region. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Retired Justice Buena, 87

THE RETIRED supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo B. Buena passed away at the age of 87 on February 13 due to a “lingering illness,” the court announced. Mr. Buena was appointed to the high court on January 5, 1999, and served until his retirement on March 25, 2002. Prior to this, he was an associate justice at the Court of Appeals starting in 1986. He started his work in government in 1956, two year after passing the 1954 Bar exams, as liaison officer in the Office of the Speaker at the House of Representatives and as legal and technical assistant at the Senate Electoral Tribunal. He was also an assistant to former Justice Jose P. Bengzon in the turnover of supervision of the lower courts to the high tribunal. He also worked as acting deputy court administrator, deputy court administrator, and acting court administrator before his appointment to the appellate court. A native of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, Mr. Buena earned his pre-law and law degrees at the University of Santo Tomas, where he also taught law. One of the SC rulings he penned was the October 2000 decision dismissing the petitions filed against the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States. Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Retired cops with drug trade links can still face criminal charges

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL Police (PNP) Chief Archie Francisco F. Gambo said on Thursday that cops who will take the offered early retirement option amid an investigation on illegal drug trade links can still face criminal charges after they leave the service. “Kapag nag (If you take the) optional retirement kayo hindi ibig sabihin na (it does not mean that you are) off the hook,” he told reporters in Camp Crame. By availing of the optional retirement, Mr. Gamboa said the police officers are still entitled to their benefits, but they could still be charged criminally if there is evidence against them. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo, in a briefing at the Palace, made a similar statement saying, “Giving them the retirement option doesn’t mean that they will not be prosecuted if there’s evidence they’ve been involved.” Mr. Gamboa also appealed to the media to refrain from focusing on naming the prominent personalities among the 357 cops under investigation, saying all of them are entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Of the total, 15 officers have taken early retirement while 43 are marked AWOL, or absent without leave, after they skipped a drug test ordered by the police chief. Emmanuel Tupas, PHILSTAR and Gillian M. Cortez

Agri chief calls on private sector veterinarians to help battle ASF spread

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY William D. Dar called on veterinarians in private practice to volunteer their services in the government’s program to stop the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) that is threatening the country’s P400-billion hog industry. “This is the time to unite and be part of a national movement to eradicate the African Swine Fever,” Mr. Dar said during the International Farmers Summit held February 12 in Pasay City. He said private sector veterinarian can team up with the Department of Agriculture’s ASF Crisis Management Task Force for monitoring and surveillance, information dissemination, and planning on how to manage, contain, and control the deadly disease. The first ASF outbreak in Rodriguez, Rizal was confirmed in August 2019, and later spread in various parts of Luzon. Most of the cases have been addressed, except in some towns in Pangasinan where infected swines were reported in January. A new outbreak, this time in different parts of the Davao Region in Mindanao, is currently being managed.



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Think long-term for your financial security

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Some opportunities only come once in a lifetime. With the release of CIMB Bank Philippines’ (CIMB Bank PH) new ‘One Shot at Love’ short film, the digital bank wants to show every Filipino out there looking for love how having good saving habits can make them ready for those unexpected, life-changing moments.

The film tells the story of the typical working-class millennial: hard-working, future-oriented… and bored. The routine of every day gets exhausting, and without someone special to spend them with the days just blur on by until the next paycheck.

But life’s biggest moments hardly ever come with warning. You never know what each day can bring. But when the opportunity of a lifetime comes knocking on your door, you’d be happy to have some money in the bank to seize it.

Whether it’s for an unexpected plane ticket, for the capital for a new business, or for the funds to supplement a scholarship application, money allows freedom. This is the true meaning of financial inclusion — to give Filipinos the ability to seize the opportunities that life throws their way.

Bringing more Filipinos towards financial inclusion

Since its foundation in December 2018, CIMB Bank PH has aimed to bring more Filipinos towards financial inclusion. As an all-digital, mobile-first bank, it has served around two million customers since its first year of establishment, earning its reputation as the most awarded digital bank in the country in 2019, securing eight international awards, including Global Finance’s Best Digital Consumer Bank, Asian Banker’s Best Digital Bank, and International Finance’s Fastest Growing Digital Bank Award.

The all-digital bank seeks to empower Filipinos by giving them access to flexible, innovative products and services specifically designed to prepare them for every opportunity. Through the CIMB Bank PH mobile app, Filipinos can open a savings account and apply for a personal loan without the hassle of waiting in line or the extensive paperwork required by traditional banks.

Applicants can open an UpSave account seamlessly in 10 minutes, anytime all-year round, all without an initial deposit, minimum balance, nor any penalty charges for anytime withdrawal.

To help more Filipinos in their financial journey, UpSave account holders also have access to one of the highest savings interest rates in the market at a no-time-limit 4% per annum — 1600% higher than other major banks in the country. Account holders with P100,000 and above average daily balance can also get free life insurance coverage worth up to P2 million.

CIMB Bank PH’s digital model further accounts for Filipinos’ increasingly busy work schedules by forming strategic partnerships with local payment gateways, giving their account holders access to over 8,000 convenience partners to make their transactions, or withdraw in over 20,000 ATMs nationwide for free.

The all-digital bank eliminates the barriers of traditional borrowing methods offered by other banks through an all-digital loan application system. No need to appear for a personal review, as the system allows for initial loan approval of up to P1 million in 10 minutes (with a minimum of P30,000), with zero processing fees and no hidden charges. Loans are payable within 12 to 60 months, providing flexibility and ease of mind for borrowers.

Giving everyone a chance to take charge of their life

Financial inclusion, after all, is giving every Filipino the chance to take charge of their life and make the decisions they need to create a better future.

How many people in the distant provinces remain unbanked without a choice? How many businesses failed to get off the ground because of a lack of capital? How much savings have been lost to inflation due to low interest rates?

With an always-accessible mobile app, best-in-market rates, and a hassle-free loan application system, financial inclusion for every Filipino might not be so far away.

“Highlighting how financial literacy is a main component of CIMB Bank’s operations in the Philippines as the company fulfills its mission in bringing Filipinos closer to their next step of achieving a comfortable future while enjoying today,” said CIMB Bank Philippines Chief Executive Officer Vijay Manoharan.

CIMB Bank PH is the newest member of the CIMB Group, one of ASEAN’s leading banks and is present in over 16 global markets. With the establishment of CIMB Bank PH, CIMB Group is able to extend its reach and transform the Filipino banking experience.

To know more about CIMB Bank PH, click here or download the app for Android and iOS.


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Nokia to Weigh Strategic Options as Profit Pressure Mounts

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(Bloomberg) — Nokia Oyj is exploring strategic options as fierce competition puts pressure on the Finnish network equipment maker’s earnings, people familiar with the matter said.The company is working with advisers to consider potential asset sales and mergers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.Nokia shares have lost roughly a third of their value over the past year before news of its deliberations. The company’s American depositary receipts rose as much as 13% Wednesday. The ADRs closed up 6.1% to $4.15 in New York trading, giving the company a market value of about $23.5 billion.The firm cut its outlook and suspended its dividend in October, saying it’s not expecting a major recovery in profit until 2021. That’s ratcheting up pressure on Chief Executive Officer Rajeev Suri to act.Deliberations are ongoing, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, the people said. A representative for Espoo, Finland-based Nokia declined to comment.Possible CombinationsOne possibility Nokia could also consider is combining with a competitor like Ericsson AB or partnering in certain business areas. Still, such a move would face significant hurdles including political pressure to preserve jobs as well as antitrust scrutiny. A representative for Ericsson declined to comment.The limited number of direct rivals to Nokia would also require the company to consider interest from further afield — like technology companies or wireless operators — if it were to ever seek a full sale.The December announcement that Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa would step down stirred speculation about deeper changes at the company. The firm is in a fierce rivalry with Ericsson and China’s Huawei Technologies Co., as the three dominant players seek to benefit from phone carriers’ investments in next-generation mobile networks.“Nokia’s return to sustained growth and profitability has been delayed by its struggle to transition to a cost-competitive 5G hardware design, impeding its ability to compete, in our view. The 5G spending cycle is ramping up as commercial launches gain momentum, putting Nokia at risk of losing early awards.”\–John Butler and Boyoung Kim, telecom analysts, Bloomberg IntelligenceThe U.S. should be “actively considering” investments into Nokia or Ericsson to counter the threat posed by China’s dominance of emerging 5G technology, Attorney General William Barr said this month.Huawei RivalsLarry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, later said the U.S. government isn’t in the business of buying companies. He has since announced plans by the White House to hold a conference with Huawei rivals to try to accelerate development of affordable competing products.Nokia warned this month that, excluding China, its addressable market is likely to be stagnant this year compared with 2019.As it struggles to catch up with competitors, Nokia’s acquisition of French rival Alcatel-Lucent in 2016, which helped to broaden its offering, may have slowed down development of new products as it contended with a complicated integration process.(Updates with Ericsson response in sixth paragraph)\–With assistance from Matthew Monks.To contact the reporters on this story: Ed Hammond in New York at ehammond12@bloomberg.net;Dinesh Nair in London at dnair5@bloomberg.net;Myriam Balezou in London at mbalezou@bloomberg.net;Niclas Rolander in Stockholm at nrolander@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Aaron Kirchfeld at akirchfeld@bloomberg.net, Ben Scent, Michael HythaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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Lowe’s anemic e-commerce growth is helping Home Depot deepen its lead

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In the era of the so-called retail apocalypse, reporting even modest in-store sales growth should seem close to miraculous.

But that’s not the case for Lowe’s. On Wednesday, the $72 billion-a-year home improvement giant reported a 2.6% increase in comparable sales for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2019. Up against its biggest competition, Home Depot, that figure underscored a major weakness in Lowe’s business: a lackluster e-commerce business.

Lowe’s said that sales on its website rose 3% in the quarter ending January 31. On a call with Wall Street analysts, Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison acknowledged that the company’s e-commerce trajectory “lags market growth.” He is right on that front: in the final three months of 2019, e-commerce sales in the U.S. rose 16.7%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But of greater concern to Lowe’s, digital sales growth at archrival Home Depot was 20.8% during the same fiscal quarter, and data firm eMarketer estimates Home Depot’s e-commerce business has now hit the $10 billion mark. (Total Home Depot revenue was $110 billion.) Home Depot’s overall U.S. comparable sales rose 5.3%, continuing a years-long tradition of outpacing Lowe’s in quarterly sales growth.

“At the beginning of 2019, Lowes.com was sitting on a decade old platform,” Ellison explained to the analysts, noting that the “replatforming” of the site would not be complete until sometime in the second quarter of the current year.

Ellison tried to put a good spin on the numbers, saying, “there are very few large retailers in America delivering a 2.6% comp growth almost exclusively from the brick-and-mortar stores.”

Thin consolation. As results at countless big box retailers have shown, the stronger the e-commerce growth, the greater in-store sales growth is too since both avenues feed business to each other and reinforce the overall brand.

At Home Depot, for instance, some 50% of online orders last quarter were picked up in store. Such customers typically pick up an extra item or two while at the store, and the process saves Home Depot shipping money.

Ellison said he expects the trajectory of Lowe’s e-commerce business to change in the second half of 2020. Even so, the company will have a lot of catching up to do.

Home Depot has ramped up its business-to-business website that caters specifically to professional contractors, its biggest customer segment by sales. There are 1 million customers using the site. And, pairing with that site, in-store sales staff is equipped with customer relationship management tools that catalogs what customers bought previously and what they might need for a current project.

Meanwhile, Lowe’s is still looking to improve the basic functions of its main site. Ellison was candid about some its shortfalls and pointed to the labor intensive process of adding items to its online assortment, particularly for items that will be shipped by a brand directly to the customer rather than by Lowe’s. The process is currently manual, but Ellison said he is working on digitizing that. He also conceded that basic features like giving customers the ability to schedule a delivery in a narrow time window haven’t been added to the site yet. Ellison said new features like the tighter scheduling window will be “up and going by the second half” of 2020.

The CEO of J.C. Penney before joining Lowe’s in 2018, Ellison struggled to fix the department store chain’s ailing e-commerce business despite years of promises. While Lowe’s e-commerce is in better shape than Penney’s ever was, it remains a show-me story for Ellison.

E-commerce woes and all, Lowe’s has a lot of wind in its sails thanks to the booming housing market, a trend that has also lifted Home Depot. But, unless Lowe’s bridges the online shopping gap with Home Depot, it will be much harder to eke out sales gains when the environment gets tougher .

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