The rebirth of Hertz: vaccines, meme stocks and Wall Street’s crazy year

At 2am on the morning of May 11, Thomas Lauria poured himself a glass of Jack Daniel’s even though he was still at work. A partner in the Miami office of law firm White & Case, Lauria had spent the previous 15 hours overseeing a tense auction between two rival private equity consortiums for Hertz, the bankrupt rental car group.

Dozens of financiers, lawyers and bankers had descended on the White & Case office overlooking Biscayne Bay — for many it was their first in-person business meeting in 14 months.

Fortified by what he later described as “the right mix of caffeine, sugar, carbs and whiskey”, Lauria eventually asked each bidding group to submit their “best-and-final” offers so a winner could be crowned and everyone could finally get some sleep. The bidding war that had built up over the previous two months pushed Hertz’s enterprise value to a figure approaching $7bn — a figure that was unthinkable a year before.

The remarkable turnround in Hertz’s fortunes mimics the dramatic rebound that large parts of the global economy are experiencing. When the rental car group filed for bankruptcy in May 2020, after business and leisure travel had ground to a halt, the company was the most high-profile victim of the economic carnage being inflicted by the pandemic — and seemingly portended more corporate failures to come.

 Big Read chart showing share prices of leading car rental companies

Last June, Hertz somehow became the original “meme” stock — stricken companies which found frenzied support on social media among groups of retail investors whose confidence in their short-term futures was dismissed at the time as foolish by professional investors.

Yet by the spring of 2021, those terrifying early days of the pandemic were just a faded memory. Massive intervention, first by the Federal Reserve and then by the Treasury, stabilised the US economy. And then America’s furious pace of vaccinations buoyed hopes for the travel industry, allowing cruise companies and airliners to raise billions of cheap capital from flush institutional investors.

Thirty-two hours after the bidding first started, a group led by distressed debt fund Knighthead Capital prevailed in the auction. Knighthead’s group agreed a deal that gave Hertz an enterprise value of $6.9bn — including $1.1bn to a group of shareholders which, once dominated by day traders on the Robinhood app, now included a set of canny hedge funds.

Bankruptcy typically involves vultures fighting for scraps. Instead, the Hertz brawl revolved around a once broken company that was getting more valuable by the minute — the perfect metaphor for an upside-down year on Wall Street.

Thomas Lauria, a top corporate restructuring lawyer who specialised in representing long-shot creditors who needed a bulldog to argue their case in court
Thomas Lauria, a top corporate restructuring lawyer who specialised in representing long-shot creditors who needed a bulldog to argue their case in court © White & Case

Braking fast

In late March 2020, as the full impact of the pandemic became apparent, Hertz faced dual existential problems. First, as travel halted, the group’s revenues had collapsed. In April alone, turnover was down by 73 per cent. More critically, the company’s fleet of more than 500,000 cars was financed off-balance sheet through special purpose vehicles. Since cars served as collateral, it was a relatively cheap way to borrow.

These lenders, however, also had negotiated protections where, if used cars declined in value, Hertz itself was obliged to inject equity into these SPVs. In April, with used car prices plummeting, bondholders told the company it owed them more than $100m. Rather than pay, the company chose bankruptcy. Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor who had been Hertz’s de facto boss, sold his 38 per cent stake on the eve of bankruptcy, registering a near $2bn loss.

Hertz’s hope was that through a court-supervised process there would be a way for the company to efficiently deal with all of its problems. Bondholders in its asset backed securities were, understandably, desperate to be repaid. And with the travel shutdown expected to continue indefinitely, there were even whispers that Hertz would be forced to simply liquidate its entire fleet.

Big Read chart showing Equity, debt, stock and enterprise values

That bankruptcy process centred on Lauria, a top corporate restructuring lawyer who specialised in representing long-shot creditors who needed a bulldog to argue their case in court. (His business card boasts the motto, “WALK IN. FUCK SHIT UP. WALK OUT”). The owner of a mansion on exclusive Fisher’s Island, Lauria had used his Miami base to become friendly with various Florida business luminaries, most notably Icahn.

White & Case had been working with Hertz for years and was the easy selection for the Florida-based company as it entered bankruptcy. This case, however, would require both more diplomacy and creativity than Lauria’s trademark bomb-throwing.

A chance for an outside-the-box gambit came within days of Hertz’s May 24 bankruptcy petition. The company, bizarrely, was becoming the hottest stock on Robinhood. Lauria and Hertz figured it was worth trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in cheap bankruptcy financing by selling stock. The bankruptcy court agreed at a Friday afternoon telephone hearing in June. But just as the company started gradually selling new stock — reaching $29m — the US securities regulator raised doubt and the company backed off. Instead Hertz was forced to take a $1.65bn loan with an interest rate approaching 10 per cent.

Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, in May 2020. After business and leisure travel ground to a halt, Hertz was the most high-profile victim of the economic carnage inflicted by the pandemic
Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, in May 2020. After business and leisure travel ground to a halt, Hertz was the most high-profile victim of the economic carnage inflicted by the pandemic © Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

‘Perfect scenario’

Those look like V-shaped projections, Andrew Glenn thought to himself. By early 2021, the world seemed like a brighter place and so did the recently-created Hertz financial forecasts examined by Glenn, a veteran bankruptcy lawyer who was at that point uninvolved in the case. The figures showed Hertz operating profit jumping by a factor of seven between 2021 and 2023. Armed with the data, Glenn and an ally, Pericles Capital, quietly began approaching funds who might also believe that existing Hertz shareholders, once left for dead, could now witness a decent recovery.

In early March, Lauria had just signed up a deal based on those projections with two investment firms, Knighthead Capital and Certares, that gave the company an enterprise value of $4.9bn. Even that figure seemed miraculous given the events of the previous year. In the latter half of 2020, Hertz had agreed with the ABS holders to sell 200,000 vehicles. The prospects for a Covid-19 vaccine then were promising but a recovery in travel remained uncertain.

An empty Hertz Rent-A-Car rental office at San Francisco International Airport in April  2020
An empty Hertz Rent-A-Car rental office at San Francisco International Airport in April 2020 © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Still, Knighthead and Certares, the latter a travel specialist with stakes in TripAdvisor and the American Express travel agency, were leading a deal that would inject $5bn into Hertz. The company’s junior bondholders would realise a recovery of either 70 cents on the dollar in cash or get the chance to buy into the equity of new Hertz. However, Hertz shareholders, according to the terms, were to get nothing.

“This was the perfect scenario, I just needed a couple of good bounces,” says Eric Parkinson, a retail investor who likens himself to George Soros and Warren Buffett. Parkinson, based in Los Angeles, started speculating in Hertz shares around the time Knighthead/Certares terms were announced. “I love the intersection of fear, a lazy media narrative, and where nothing makes sense,” he says, referring to the mainstream view that anyone buying Hertz stock was a sucker.

Parkinson, like the hedge funds that lawyer Andrew Glenn was pitching, noticed that Hertz bonds had jumped well over the 70 cent offer on the table. The implication was that the company’s equity would soon start to be worth considerably more. Parkinson would accumulate 67,000 shares at an average price of below $1. And another private equity group was about to jump into the fray.

Big Read chart showing the Centerbridge vs Knighthead bids compared

Let battle begin

The near $5bn that Knighthead had agreed to pay for Hertz seemed cheap to many. As such, another set of heavy hitters was ready to put up a fight. Tom Dundon knew a thing or two about automobiles. Dundon had become a Texas billionaire making subprime auto loans to Americans, eventually selling his business to Santander. Now he had teamed up with two elite private equity firms, Centerbridge and Warburg Pincus, to put in their own bid for Hertz predicated on a partnership with Carvana, an online used car marketplace whose public market capitalisation had surged to $47bn. By mid-April, Hertz had changed its mind and approved a $5.5bn bid from the Centerbridge/Warburg/Dundon consortium.

Through the course of April, the Knighthead and Centerbridge groups fought to win control of Hertz. Lauria, at the same time, wanted the company out of bankruptcy by July. To avoid an endless tit-for-tat, the court agreed to an auction for Monday, May 10 that Lauria had proposed.

The result was a late spring pilgrimage of Hertz bidders to Florida. “Why are we doing this in Miami?” one lawyer emailed to the group, incredulous that 95 per cent of the case participants lived in New York. Still, less than an hour after gathering at the White & Case office, virtually everyone had shed their masks, betting that their colleagues had already received a vaccine.

The duelling private equity groups had by now gathered critical allies. The Centerbridge team had secured the support of virtually all Hertz junior bondholders, which included the likes of Fidelity, JPMorgan and DE Shaw. These bondholders, holding $3bn of paper, were willing to take their recovery in new Hertz shares and were also purchasing more equity to fund the restructuring. These creditors had early in the process offered to buy Hertz at a $3.5bn enterprise value but now were hoping to tag along with the Centerbridge bid at a number near twice that figure.

Joining the rival Knighthead group was Andrew Glenn’s committee of hedge funds, which had bought up shares and were committing hundreds of millions in new capital. The group had also secured the heavyweight, Apollo Global Management, which was contributing $1.5bn of preferred stock. In the days leading up to the Miami showdown, the Knighthead team had seized the upper hand, offering roughly $300m to existing shareholders or $2 a share.

When the group gathered mid-morning on May 11, one banker described the vibe as “exhilarating” — a bidding war occurring live after a year of Zoom fatigue, even if the scene mostly involved long periods of sitting around with occasional moments of frenzy. Each side’s bids were complex, involving packages of cash as well as ownership in the new Hertz in the form of other complex instruments. Hertz’s bankers at Moelis & Co had to run the numbers through their spreadsheets before all sides would gather to hear the announcement that a bid had been deemed superior.

Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor who had been Hertz’s de facto boss, sold his 38 per cent stake on the eve of bankruptcy, registering a near $2bn loss
Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor who had been Hertz’s de facto boss, sold his 38 per cent stake on the eve of bankruptcy, registering a near $2bn loss © Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

By midnight, only a couple of rounds of bidding had finished. The Knighthead group was able to quickly counterbid. However, the Centerbridge group proved messier, requiring the unwieldy bondholder group’s consent before sending in a bid. Jim Millstein, the restructuring banker representing Knighthead, sent a flurry of heated text messages to William Derrough of Moelis about the perceived leniency extended to Centerbridge. At one point late at night, Lauria had an agitated argument with a Certares executive.

“Lauria thrives in the chaos,” explains one bankruptcy adviser who was in the room, adding: “As long as he is controlling the chaos.”

Still, as Lauria sipped his scotch in the small hours he knew that however erratic the process had been — each bidding group was convinced that Hertz had been prejudiced against them over the previous months — he had essentially done the unthinkable in stoking up a hot auction. By midday on Tuesday, as the White & Case office reeked of Papa John’s pizza and Cuban sandwiches along with dozens of weary bidders who had not left the premises in 24 hours, Hertz told the two groups to submit their “best and final offers”.

Each side was approaching their limit, but no one wanted to lose by a penny either. Ultimately, the margin was not close. Centerbridge offered a package worth $5.39 cents a share or $841m in the form of cash, options and preferred equity. Knighthead submitted a final bid they said was worth $1.15bn or $7.36 a share.

While that included a cash payment of $239m, more than $700m was in options derived from the Black-Scholes equation. The Centerbridge group was furious, believing Knighthead had goosed that figure by using financial inputs in their bid that defied economic reality. Still, members of the Centerbridge group admitted that its marriage with the bondholders had limited their own agility.

Overall, Hertz accepted a deal had raised $7bn in new capital, its overall enterprise value had doubled to $6.9bn in three months and all its creditors would be paid 100 cents on the dollar and in cash. Eric Parkinson, the retail investor who had loaded up shares as the bidding war began, was sitting on winnings of $400,000.

Rental cars are stored in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium in LA, California, in May 2020
Rental cars are stored in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium in LA, California, in May 2020 © Bing Guan/Bloomberg

Late that Tuesday, some of the bidders headed back to New York having never checked into their hotel — one banker described the ordeal as “inhumane”. Members of the Knighthead group retreated to a celebratory dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, Il Gabbiano.

On Thursday, the court approved the restructuring which is set to take effect in a few weeks. Hertz shares now trade at $7, implying a market capitalisation of more than $1bn.

“These guys paid a pretty penny,” says one person involved in the Centerbridge bid. Analysts at research firm CreditSights argue that the winning bid requires “everything to go right and lot of conviction on the forward variables”, citing not just the recovery in travel but both high rental car rates and used car prices.

Jim Millstein, the banker for Knighthead who remains irritated by the auction shenanigans, still tipped his cap to the man who had orchestrated the process, “Lauria, as much as it pains me to say it, was maybe both smart and lucky.”

Lauria, for his part, acknowledged both the challenge and the satisfaction of the Hertz case. “I got to use every braincell I have and every skill I’ve used over 35 years,” says the 60 year-old. “Hertz called it all into play.”

Biden-Johnson talks undermined by ‘deep concerns’ over Northern Ireland

Joe Biden will meet Boris Johnson in person for the first time on Thursday, with hopes over a new US-UK ‘Atlantic Charter’ undermined by “deep” concerns in Washington over the post-Brexit situation in Northern Ireland.

Biden’s anxiety was conveyed directly to London earlier this month by America’s most senior diplomat in Britain, who warned the UK to stop inflaming tensions in Northern Ireland over new Brexit trading rules.

Yael Lempert is reported to have issued a démarche, a formal diplomatic reprimand, urging Britain to make “unpopular compromises” if necessary to ease tensions over the so-called Northern Ireland protocol.

Downing Street did not comment but the incident confirms that the NI row is souring the lead-up to the G7 summit, which starts on Friday in Cornwall, and damaging relations with Britain’s main economic partners and allies.

The EU is threatening trade sanctions if Johnson unilaterally breaks promises he made relating to Northern Ireland, and the G7 summit host will face awkward encounters in the coming days with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the EU itself.

According to a UK government note seen by the Times, Lempert told Lord David Frost, Brexit minister, on June 3 that the UK was “inflaming” tensions in Ireland and Europe with its rhetoric over certain checks at ports in NI.

The memo said that the US “strongly urged” Britain to come to a “negotiated settlement”, even if that meant “unpopular compromises”. The UK note of the meeting said Lempert urged Britain to keep things “cool”, suggesting Britain had been “inflaming the rhetoric”.

It added: “Lempert said the US was increasingly concerned about the stalemate on implementing the protocol. This was undermining the trust of our two main allies.”

The revelation of the meeting confirmed the anxiety felt by Biden over the UK/EU stalemate over the border issue in Northern Ireland. Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, said the president had “deep” concerns over the future of the peace process in the region.

A senior administration official told the Financial Times the US had raised its concerns over Northern Ireland with the UK in a private message ahead of their summit. But the official said the discussion was not directed by the president and “was not heightened”.

Frost and Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice-president, failed on Wednesday to resolve the row over the operation of the protocol, which in effect introduces a trade border in the Irish Sea. “There weren’t any breakthroughs, there weren’t any breakdowns either,” Frost said.

Johnson claims that the EU’s demands for checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland are too onerous and are disrupting trade, inflaming tensions in the pro-UK unionist community.

The issue is a major distraction for Johnson ahead of his talks with Biden, at which the two leaders will sign a new ‘Atlantic Charter’ — an attempt to evoke US-UK wartime co-operation and the 1941 charter signed by Churchill and Roosevelt that mapped out a new world order.

The new document, to be signed in Cornwall with the British aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in the background, will commit both sides to defend democracy and free trade — with the subtext of a common front against authoritarian regimes in Beijing and Moscow.

After arriving in Britain on Wednesday evening, Biden told US military personnel that he saw the G7 summit and next week’s Nato summit as critical moments for America to reassert its global leadership after the Trump years.

Biden, who will also meet Vladimir Putin next week, said after arriving at the RAF Mildenhall air base: “At every point along the way, we’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future. ”

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López Obrador on course to lose two-thirds majority in Congress

Andrés Manuel López Obrador looked set to lose the two-thirds majority in Mexico’s lower house of Congress needed for constitutional changes, in midterm elections that he had portrayed as a referendum on his rule.

In a positive development for the populist president, however, his ruling Morena party claimed to have virtually swept elections for state governorships.

Official projections suggested Morena and his allies would command at least 58 per cent of the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies, or as many as 298 seats, according to Lorenzo Córdova, president of the National Electoral Institute (INE).

But the results looked set to fall far short of the tallies Morena and its allies had enjoyed in the first half of the president’s single six-year term.

“By not getting the results he was looking for . . . it’s probable [the president] will try to radicalise,” Jorge Zepeda Patterson, a political commentator, told Milenio Televisión.

Mexicans on Sunday voted in the biggest elections in the country’s history for the entire lower chamber plus 15 of Mexico’s 32 state governorships, as well as more than 20,000 local posts.

Mario Delgado, leader of Morena, earlier hailed what he called a “historic triumph” in which he said Morena would sweep 12 of the 15 governorships that had been up for grabs. Although in several states, multiple opposing candidates claimed victory, official results in those races were pending.

According to the INE projections, Morena could end up with 190 to 203 lower house seats, confirming it as easily the most popular party. Its allied parties — the Greens, the Workers’ party and PES — could garner another 95 seats, Córdova said.

However, it was not certain the PES party would pass the 3 per cent threshold needed to maintain its register; the INE projection estimated it would win between zero and six seats. Without PES, Morena, the Greens and the Workers’ party could clinch 265 to 292 seats, INE said.

Prior to the election, Morena and allies had 334 seats and Morena alone had 256.

The opposition Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI), National Action party (PAN) and Democratic Revolution party (PRD) teamed up to form an opposition bloc. PAN leader Marko Cortés said the partnership had succeeded in denying the ruling coalition “the qualified majority with which it has abused power for the last three years”.

“The majority of Mexicans wants to correct the direction of the country,” he said.

López Obrador, who says he is delivering a profound transformation of Mexico, eradicating corruption and levelling up living standards for the poor, did not immediately comment on the results. Political analysts have said he could challenge any adverse outcome.

Ciro Murayama, an INE electoral councillor, said the projected results showed that two out of three Mexicans did not support the ruling party.

Movimiento Ciudadano, which did not join the opposition Alliance for Mexico bloc, secured as many as 27 votes, according to the INE. However, even if it sought to play kingmaker, its seats would not be enough to hand the ruling coalition the 334 seats it needed for a constitutional majority.

López Obrador has already passed legislation seeking to undo constitutional reforms in the energy sector passed by his predecessor but the laws are expected to face challenges at the Supreme Court.

The peso was little changed at about 19.90 to the US dollar.

Coronavirus latest: Covid-19 risk cut sharply for up to 10 months after first infection, study finds

Retirement could be delayed for those whose income was harmed by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new survey. One in four Americans say they plan to retire later as a result of the pandemic, a number that jumps to 42 per cent among individuals who reported to have lost income during the crisis.

Global food prices have recorded their biggest annual rise in a decade in the latest sign of rising food inflation, which has accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. China’s soaring appetite for grain and soyabeans, a severe drought in Brazil and the demand for vegetable oil for biodiesel have driven the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s monthly food price index up 40 per cent in May compared with the same period last year.

The US will donate millions of excess doses of Covid-19 vaccines to countries around the world in an attempt to help battle fresh outbreaks of the pandemic. The Biden administration has previously promised to donate 80m doses, and on Thursday outlined how the first 25m of those would be allocated. South America, Africa, and south and south-east Asia will all receive millions of doses under the plans.

© AP

Social mixing in the UK remains well below pre-pandemic levels despite a huge tranche of restrictions being eased in mid-May. John Edmunds, a professor of infectious modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it was a sign of “residual cautiousness in the population”.

Portugal will be taken off England’s “green list” of foreign travel destinations and no new countries will be added this week, in a significant blow to the leisure industry ahead of the summer season. Airlines had expected at least a handful of destinations to be opened up under the so-called traffic light system for overseas travel. European airline shares dived on Thursday after the news.

The US private sector created jobs in May at the fastest pace in nearly a year, driven by strong gains in leisure and hospitality as the economy pushes ahead with reopening. Non-farm private employers added 978,000 jobs last month, according to a report from payroll processor ADP. That was the biggest month for jobs since June 2020 and topped expectations for 650,000.

An upswing in coronavirus infections among the under-40s has pushed the UK’s R value back above 1, a closely watched study has found. The Zoe symptom-tracking project estimated that R, which measures the number of people to whom each infected person passes on the virus, stood at 1.1 as of last week.

Six asylum seekers won a legal challenge after the High Court ruled that the UK government had acted unlawfully by housing them in a former military barracks that failed to meet minimum living standards. The asylum seekers were housed in Napier barracks in Kent in accommodation that the men’s lawyers claimed was “squalid” and in which there was a Covid-19 outbreak in mid-January.

Taiwan reported another 583 new local Covid-19 infections on Thursday, the second straight daily increase, in an apparent sign that soft lockdown measures imposed more than two weeks ago have so far failed to stop the country’s first sizeable local outbreak. The Central Epidemic Command Centre announced 364 new locally-transmitted confirmed cases plus 219 more from a testing backlog.

The Supreme Court of India has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vaccine policy, calling it “arbitrary and irrational” that people under the age of 45 are paying for their doses. In an order made public on Wednesday, the country’s top court said that New Delhi’s decision to change the country’s vaccine policy from free, centrally procured doses to “paid vaccination” by states and private hospitals needed to be reviewed.

China boosts measures to cool renminbi rally

China is resorting to measures not used since the global financial crisis to temper a rally in its currency as the country battles rising commodity prices and slowing growth, with analysts predicting more actions to come.

A move by the People’s Bank of China that will force lenders to hold more foreign currency indicates that policymakers want to rein in the renminbi’s gains after it touched its strongest level against the dollar in three years last week. That marked a reversal from the years of the Trump administration, which labelled Beijing a currency manipulator in 2019 after the renminbi weakened past the important Rmb7 per dollar level.

The central bank action, announced late on Monday, will raise Chinese financial institutions’ required reserves from 5 to 7 per cent of total foreign exchange deposits “in order to strengthen foreign exchange liquidity management”, according to the PBoC.

That marks the biggest such increase ever, analysts said, and the first since the global financial crisis. The strength of the renminbi has created a further headache for policymakers in China already grappling with soaring commodity prices and risks from high amounts of leverage across the economy.

China’s currency has strengthened almost 11 per cent against the dollar over the past 12 months. The onshore-traded renminbi was little-changed at Rmb6.3696 per greenback on Tuesday but analysts said more interventions in currency markets were likely.

“The move aims to cool down the onshore renminbi’s rapid appreciation by reducing [foreign currency] liquidity in the system,” said Becky Liu, China macro strategist at Standard Chartered, which estimated that the rise would sap about $20bn of liquidity from the country’s foreign exchange market.

The requirement will restrict the domestic supply of foreign currencies, making it harder to use dollars to purchase renminbi onshore, potentially easing demand for the Chinese currency.

“The PBoC’s action highlighted its stance against the rapid renminbi appreciation and hints [at] further forthcoming measures,” said Ken Cheung, chief Asian currency strategist at Mizuho Bank.

However, some policymakers in China have argued in favour of a stronger renminbi. A PBoC official this month wrote an editorial, which was subsequently deleted, arguing that the central bank should let the currency appreciate to counter surging global commodity prices. A stronger Chinese currency could make its imports of overseas raw materials cheaper.

Higher commodity prices have pushed up factory gate prices in China and stoked fears of inflation. A cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang last month said measures should be taken to stop inflation of producer prices, which rose 6.8 per cent in April, passing through to consumer price inflation, which remains low. Producer prices fell throughout most of 2020.

There are also signs that China’s strong economic recovery from Covid-19 is cooling off. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the economy expanded just 0.6 per cent in the first three months of the year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, well below expectations.

China’s exports, which in theory benefit from a weak renminbi, have boomed over the past year despite the currency strengthening. Exports rose 32 per cent year on year in dollar terms in April, reflecting China’s dominance of global trade given its rapid recovery from the pandemic.

However, “the broad renminbi strength will likely undermine the competitiveness of China’s export sector”, Cheung added.

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US moves to punish Belarus over jet grounding

The US has moved to punish Belarus for the forced landing of a Ryanair flight last weekend by announcing that it would reimpose sanctions on nine of the country’s state-owned companies and would join the EU in developing a list of additional targets.

In a statement late on Friday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Washington was taking the steps “together with our partners and allies, to hold the regime accountable for its actions and to demonstrate our commitment to the aspirations of the people of Belarus”.

On Sunday Belarusian authorities diverted a Ryanair jet travelling between Greece and Lithuania to Minsk so they could detain a dissident on board.

The brazen move triggered a wave of condemnation from the west against president Alexander Lukashenko’s government, which is closely allied with Russia and its president Vladimir Putin, and quick action by the EU to punish Belarus. The US was slower to respond but on Friday it began to take action.

Psaki said that as of June 3, the US would reimpose “full blocking sanctions” against nine state-owned companies from Belarus that had previously been granted sanctions relief from the US Treasury department.

In addition, the White House press secretary said the US was “developing a list of targeted sanctions against key members” of the regime in Belarus that were “associated with ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption, the falsification of the 2020 election and the events of May 23”.

Psaki added that the Treasury department would also prepare an executive order for President Joe Biden to sign that authorises US “authorities to impose sanctions on elements” of the regime in Belarus as well as “its support network, and those that support corruption, the abuse of human rights and attacks on democracy”.

The crackdown from Washington also includes a warning from the US Department of State for US citizens to avoid travelling to Belarus, and a notice for American passenger airlines to “exercise extreme caution when considering flying in Belarusian airspace” — though this appeared to fall short of an outright ban.

Early this week the EU agreed to expand sanctions against Belarus and ban its state airline from the bloc’s airports in response to the intercepted flight. Brussels also called for the immediate release of Roman Protasevich, a leading activist, and his partner, Sofia Sapega, who were detained after the Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk.

Washington’s move could complicate the lead-up to a summit between Biden and Putin to be held in Geneva in mid-June in an effort by the two countries to patch up relations that have rapidly deteriorated in recent months.

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The iPhone can be replaced easily either you can buy an iPhone battery online and ask your local mobile shop to interchange the batteries i.e. old one with the new one. The iPhone battery can be also replaced with the help of an apple service provider but it might take more time to replace. In some conditions, it only takes 2-3 hours but they can take more time depending on their workload.

Iphone battery

The self-life of the iPhone battery can be increased with some changes like you can dim light, can charge your phone before it gets fully discharged, and many more. The battery has a life cycle of certain numbers say 500 in the case of iPhone battery, it means they can charge or discharge 500 times. You can increase the self-life of the iPhone battery by handling it smartly or you can also replace your dead iPhone battery by browsing online or you can get some from offline.

Endoscope Accessories

The endoscope is a way to add innovation to medical science and technology. The endoscope is an instrument which provides doctor and the health experts ease to operate and examine their patients without invading them internally. The endoscope has many accessories associated with them, these are called spare parts of the endoscope. The endoscope accessories are replaceable and can be made available in online stores or any local medical instrument shop.

The endoscope consists of several endoscopic accessories. These are listed below:

  1. Bending Rubber- This endoscope accessory provides flexibility to the endoscope. The bending rubber can be damaged due to improper handling or if it comes in contact with any sharp objects. The leakage in bending rubber can cause invading of fluid, hence increase the chances of growing germs.
  2. A thin long insertion tube- This endoscope accessory is a long tube-like structure that is inserted inside the gastro track at one end of which the camera is attached and is operated from outside.
  3. A lens or lens system- This endoscope accessories is a rod lens that helps to provide a high contrast image of the gastrointestinal tract.
  4. Bending section mesh- This endoscope accessory is a braid of stainless steel that is a layer in between the bending rubber and the bending section of the endoscope. This bending section mesh can be damaged due to excessive torque on it. So, proper handling of these endoscope accessories is advisable to prevent any kind of damage.

There are many endoscope accessories rather than mentioned above, for instance, view heads and button, endoscope O-rings, endoscope angulation, endoscope coil pipe assembly components, endoscope light guide bundles etc. These endoscope accessories are replaceable and can be available in the market. Then why are you waiting to just replace your damaged parts with the new accessory available to you?