FirstFT: Japan to divert energy supplies to Europe

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Japan is to divert some of its supplies of liquefied natural gas to Europe in an effort to soothe fears that a Russian invasion of Ukraine will disrupt gas supplies to the continent.

The deal, announced by Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda yesterday in response to a request from the US, is intended as a symbol of solidarity with western allies over the conflict in Ukraine.

Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, said the country’s “assistance to Europe” showed how closely Washington and Tokyo were working “with like-minded partners to deter Russian aggression against Ukraine, and uphold our shared values”.

Several carriers, each carrying at least 70,000 tonnes of LNG, are already on their way to Europe and due to arrive this month according to officials at Japan’s ministry of trade, economy and industry. Sign up for our Energy Source newsletter to get the latest on how the Russia-Ukraine conflict is impacting the sector.

Further reading:

Do you agree with Japan’s decision to send LNG supplies to Europe? Email me your thoughts to firstft@ft.com. Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. – Emily

1. SEC seeks to bolster disclosure rules for PE and hedge funds The Securities and Exchange Commission is seeking to compel hedge funds and private equity groups to disclose quarterly performance and fees charged to investors, as the agency pushes back against activities it warned were “contrary to the public interest”.

2. Microsoft appeals to regulators on Activision deal Microsoft has pledged to ensure open distribution of its games as its senior management traveled to Washington to address regulators’ potential antitrust concerns over its $ 75bn takeover of Activision Blizzard.

3. Turkey to target ‘under the mattress’ gold Turkey will expand its drive to lure savers back to the lira next week with a scheme aimed at bringing billions of dollars worth of “under the mattress” gold into the banking system, the country’s finance minister told investors during a visit to London.

4. PR guru plots comeback after sexual harassment claims Declan Kelly, once a prominent adviser to Fortune 500 chief executives, has made a discreet comeback – just months after he was forced to quit Teneo, the public relations firm he co-founded, following allegations of sexual harassment. Kelly has launched a new company called Consello, which makes no mention of his involvement on its bare bones website.

5. Credit Suisse shareholders take aim at vice-chair Credit Suisse investors have warned that they will try to block any move to extend the tenure of the bank’s longtime vice-chair Severin Schwan, as the scandal-hit lender faces growing pressure to rebuild its reputation.

Coronavirus digest

  • AP Moller-Maersk said it expected global supply chain woes to ease in the second half of this year.

  • The US is heading out of the “full blown” pandemic phase of Covid-19, Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said. Anthony Fauci predicted vaccinations, treatments and prior infection would soon make the virus more manageable.

  • Boris Johnson has announced plans to end the legal requirement to self-isolate after a positive Covid-19 test as he moves to scrap the last remaining coronavirus restrictions in England.

  • The UK Metropolitan Police said it would question more than 50 people in its investigation into Downing Street parties during Covid restrictions, shortly after disclosing it was considering a criminal inquiry into a further gathering.

The quiz gathering took place as London was under ‘tier two’ restrictions with official guidance urging the public not to take part in office lunches or parties during the festive period © Mirrorpix / Daily Mirror

The day ahead

Indian state elections Hundreds of millions of voters in five states will cast their ballots over several weeks starting today. India’s economic distress threatens Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state.

Opec monthly oil market report The report comes a week after Opec + agreed to boost the group’s production quota for the eighth consecutive month.

US January CPI data Figures are expected to show that inflation increased 0.5 per cent last month, according to a Reuters poll. If the figure is stronger than forecast, it could boost expectations of a more aggressive rate hike from the Federal Reserve.

Correction: In yesterday’s earnings round-up we mistakenly included AstraZeneca, Coca-Cola Company, Credit Suisse, Mazda, PepsiCo, Twitter and Unilever. These companies report Thursday. Apologies for the error.

What else we’re reading

Can China’s Starbucks win back investors? In less than five years of existence, Luckin Coffee has been a symbol of the dynamism of Chinese capitalism, the subject of a massive fraud scandal, and now – its senior executives insist – a comeback story that could test US-China relations.

© FT illustration

Chinese queue overnight to snap up Olympics souvenirs Strict Covid-19 protocols and China’s limited prospects of topping the medals table have muted local enthusiasm for the Beijing Winter Olympics, but the Games have sparked at least one public frenzy: buying and flipping official souvenirs for quick gains.

Thanks to readers who took our poll yesterday. Eighty per cent of respondents disagreed with China’s decision to make Chinese soldier Qi Fabao an Olympic torchbearer. His inclusion in the Beijing Winter Games was taken as an affront by India.

Women MBAs still lag behind men in salary and career progression Since 2007, the percentage of women on MBA courses has increased from 17 to 31 per cent. The percentage of female faculty members and female students has also gone up dramatically. But analysis of 15 years of data from the FT global MBA rankings shows slow progress towards equality.

Line chart of The average percentage of MBA alumni, faculty and board members in a business school that identify as female showing Gender diversity is improving in business schools

Hong Kong’s young journalists decry the ‘death of free press’ Hong Kong’s media scene was once hailed as one of the most freewheeling in Asia. But after a series of high-profile media company closures, fearful reporters are looking for jobs elsewhere, writes Chan Ho-him.

Australia offers timely lesson on resisting Chinese trade coercion The China-Australia dispute is a leading example of trade policy being armedized for political ends. But Canberra’s policy response has been to roll with the punches rather than hit back – a wise tactic, FT’s Alan Beattie explains. To receive Alan’s Trade Secrets newsletter sign up here.

Style

It is an uncontroversial, but nonetheless interesting fact, writes Robert Armstrong, that Jeff Bezos is a terrible dresser. He shuns the simple uniform of the super-rich but his goofy, slightly crass style clashes with the massive role his choices play in so many lives.

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos, complete with ‘beat up’ cowboy hat and boots, dressed for his space flight in July last year © Joe Raedle / Getty

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