Argentina has become the first country to approve the growth and consumption of genetically modified wheat, the country’s agriculture ministry announced Thursday.

The ministry’s scientific commission said in a statement released in Buenos Aires that it had approved a drought-resistant variety of wheat in the world’s fourth-largest exporter of the crop.

“This is the first approval in the world for drought-tolerant genetic transformation in wheat,” the National Commission for Science and Technology (CONICET) said in a statement.

However, experts expressed concern about the growth and marketing of genetically modified crops (GMOs), citing difficulties in marketing such produce to consumers concerned about their effect on health and the environment.

CONICET said the genetic modifications to Argentina’s wheat crop would have to be approved in Brazil, historically the country’s biggest export market, to be commercially viable.

Some 45 percent of Argentina’s wheat exports in 2019 went to Brazil.

Other key markets are Indonesia, Chile and Kenya.

Formal government approval is due to be published on Thursday or Friday in the official Gazette.

The drought-resistant HB4 wheat variety was developed by Argentine biotechnology company Bioceres, working with the National University and CONICET.

“Approval of our HB4 wheat in Argentina represents a groundbreaking milestone for the entire global value chain of this important crop, given the substantial yield increases and significant environmental benefits that our technology offers,” said Bioceres CEO Federico Trucco.

“Now we must go out into the world and convince people that this is super good and be able to generate markets for this wheat, which represents an evolutionary leap.”

The scientific commission of Argentina's agriculture ministry said it had approved a drought-resistant variety of wheat in the world's fourth-largest exporter of the crop The scientific commission of Argentina’s agriculture ministry said it had approved a drought-resistant variety of wheat in the world’s fourth-largest exporter of the crop Photo: AFP / Eitan ABRAMOVICH

Trucco admitted that winning approval from Brazil, the country’s key export market, could

MILAN (Reuters) – Shareholders in Monte dei Paschi di Siena BMPS.MI approved on Sunday a long-awaited bad loan clean-up plan aimed at easing the sale of the state-owned bank to a healthier rival.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank is seen at a bank entrance in Rome, Italy August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo

Italy has worked for two years on the plan, which gained final approval from the European Central Bank in September and must be completed by Dec. 1.

Rome bailed out Monte dei Paschi in 2017, acquiring a 68% stake for 5.4 billion euros ($6.3 billion). To meet conditions agreed at the time with European Union competition authorities, it must cut that stake before the bank approves 2021 earnings.

The ‘Hydra’ scheme approved on Sunday at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting will lower Monte dei Paschi’s impaired loans to 4.3% of total lending, below UniCredit’s CRDI.MI 4.8%, currently the best level among larger commercial banks.

The move was designed to facilitate a merger, but the Treasury is struggling to find buyers for the loss-making bank, people familiar with the matter have said.

Under the ‘Hydra’ scheme Monte dei Paschi will transfer 8.1 billion euros in impaired loans to state-owned bad loan manager AMCO, together with other assets and liabilities including 1.1 billion euros in capital.

The deal, which includes a 3.2 billion euro bridge loan by banks UBS and JPMorgan, allowed Monte dei Paschi to shed the loans without incurring losses.

However, the ECB has demanded the bank replenishes its capital buffers, a condition the Treasury had hoped to fulfil by finding a buyer by the end of the year.

Clinching such a deal, however, will require more time as incentives to lure potential buyers will have to be negotiated, sources have said.

(Bloomberg) — Italy’s Nexi SpA and SIA SpA are set to announce their merger after their boards meet Sunday to approve a deal to create one of Europe’s biggest payment providers, people familiar with the matter said.



a sign on the side of a train station: A pedestrian passes the Nexi SpA headquarters in Milan, Italy, on Monday, April 15, 2019. The initial public offering of payment-service company Nexi raised 2.01 billion euros ($2.3 billion), making it the biggest listing in Europe so far this year and the third major IPO of a payment-processing institution in the region in less than a year.


© Bloomberg
A pedestrian passes the Nexi SpA headquarters in Milan, Italy, on Monday, April 15, 2019. The initial public offering of payment-service company Nexi raised 2.01 billion euros ($2.3 billion), making it the biggest listing in Europe so far this year and the third major IPO of a payment-processing institution in the region in less than a year.

As part of the agreement, Nexi would approve a reserved capital increase for SIA shareholders, with no cash component, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Nexi would hold about 70% of the merged company and SIA 30%, they said. Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA, SIA’s main investor, would have about 25% of the merged entity, the people said.

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Nexi and SIA spokespeople had no comment. The merger announcement could come soon as before the market opens on Monday, said the people. Newspaper Repubblica reported the news earlier.

The firms wrapped up more than a year of negotiations over a combination as payment providers across Europe look for deals that can add scale. Combining the two Italian companies would create a stronger competitor to France’s Worldline SA, which agreed in February to acquire Ingenico Group SA in a 7.8 billion-euro ($9.1 billion) deal.

Discussions have been on the brink of collapse several times over divergences on governance and valuations. In the last few weeks talks intensified after SIA reached an accord to keep Italian lender UniCredit SpA as its main client, a key sticking point in determining its valuation, people with knowledge of the matter

(Bloomberg) — Noble Energy Inc. shareholders approved the company’s acquisition by Chevron Corp., cementing one of the U.S. oil industry’s biggest transactions this year.



The Kobe Chouest platform supply vessel sits anchored next to the Chevron Corp. Jack/St. Malo deepwater oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in the aerial photograph taken off the coast of Louisiana.


© Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
The Kobe Chouest platform supply vessel sits anchored next to the Chevron Corp. Jack/St. Malo deepwater oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in the aerial photograph taken off the coast of Louisiana.

The vote on Friday during a virtual shareholder meeting came despite opposition from Elliott Management Corp. The activist hedge fund was said to seek a break-up of the deal because it thought Chevron wasn’t paying enough. The biggest proxy-advisory firms disagreed and urged investors to support the tie-up.

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When Chevron agreed to buy Noble in an all-stock deal in July, the offer was valued at $5 billion and represented a premium of about 7.5% to the target company’s share price. Since then, the deal value has declined by almost $1 billion as the coronavirus-fueled collapse in crude demand hammered oil equities.

About 10% of votes were cast against the deal, according to a regulatory filing after U.S. stock markets closed.

For Noble, the acquisition offered a path forward at a time when peers are struggling to outlast stubbornly low oil prices and investor frustration with a sector that has largely failed to generate meaningful returns. Chevron, meanwhile, gained a massive natural gas presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, while beefing up its shale footprint back in the U.S. after it walked away from a deal to buy Anadarko Petroleum Corp. last year.

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FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the newly arrived foundation platform of Leviathan natural gas field, in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Haifa, Israel January 31, 2019. Marc Israel Sellem/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Noble Energy NBL.O shareholders on Friday approved a deal to sell the oil and gas producer to Chevron Corp CVX.N, making Chevron the No. 2 U.S. shale oil producer and giving it international natural gas reserves close to growing markets.

The all-stock deal values Noble Energy at around $4.1 billion, excluding $8 billion in debt, and the vote cements the first big energy deal since the coronavirus crushed global fuel demand.

The addition of Noble will boost Chevron’s U.S. shale oil holdings, making it the No. 2 producer behind EOG Resources, according to data from Rystad Energy. It also adds nearly 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. Noble’s Leviathan in Israeli waters, one of the world’s biggest offshore gas discoveries of the last decade, began pumping gas from the field late last year.

While 89% of Noble shareholders voted in favor of the deal, just 60% voted for merger-related executive payouts, according to regulatory filings. Proxy adviser Glass Lewis had recommended voting for the deal but against “excessive” executive payments, which would be triggered by the sale of the company.

The deal has become even cheaper for Chevron since it was announced in July with a value of $5 billion, as shares of both companies have traded down alongside oil. The deal is worth about $4.1 billion based on Friday’s closing price for Chevron of $71.19. Noble investors will receive 0.1191 shares of Chevron for each Noble share.

Activist investor Elliott Management Corp, which took an undisclosed stake in Noble but never came out publicly against the deal, declined