UN Peacebuilding Commission on maiden mission abroad in Sierra Leone

22 March 2007A delegation from the newly established United Nations Peacebuilding Commission is half way through its first-ever mission, a five-day visit to Sierra Leone, as part of reinforced efforts by the world body to prevent countries emerging from civil war and other conflicts from slipping back into bloodshed. The 12-member delegation, which winds up its visit on 25 March, has already held intensive talks with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and other senior officials of the small West African country, which after 11 years of civil war has now entered a peace consolidation phase.“We came here to look on the ground for first-hand information on issues that the Commission is meant to deal with and to identify challenges to the peacebuilding process,” said Ambassador Frank Majoor, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN, who headed the delegation in his capacity as chair of the Commission’s Country Specific Meetings on Sierra Leone. After earlier discussions in the Commission, the Government and the UN mission in Sierra Leone jointly conducted an analysis of critical gaps in peacebuilding efforts and drew up a national priority plan that has been endorsed by the stakeholders and includes youth employment and empowerment, democracy and good governance, justice and security as well as public service delivery.Mr. Majoor said the working visit helped the delegation to determine specific priorities and gaps within these wider priority areas for the Commission to solicit extended support from donor countries.He emphasized that the Commission is now closer to an integrated framework – a compact between the Government, donors, the UN, the private sector and civil society – to sustain the national and international commitment to support peacebuilding and stability in Sierra Leone over the years to come.He and other delegation members described the consolidated approach on various tracks to peacebuilding and development, thus maintaining the continuity of already existing mechanisms such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Project and the Peace Consolidation Strategy.Earlier this month, Sierra Leone received $35 million from the UN Peacebuilding Fund, established from voluntary contributions to aid countries which have recently emerged from war from slipping back into conflict, with Sierra Leone and another formerly war-torn African country, Burundi, the first nations to be referred to it.Although the two countries have made much progress in emerging from their devastating civil conflicts, they continue to face great political and economic challenges, the Commission said then. read more

Staples snaps up Office Depot for 6B to keep up with changing

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press Posted Feb 4, 2015 5:18 am MDT Staples snaps up Office Depot for $6B to keep up with changing office supply landscape FILE – This June 2, 2008 file photo shows an Office Depot store on in New York. Staples on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 announced it is buying Office Depot in a cash-and-stock deal valued at nearly $6 billion. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) NEW YORK, N.Y. – There are few places where evolving technology has been more disruptive than in the work place, which played out again Wednesday as Staples announced it would spend about $6 billion to buy Office Depot.Once one-time rivals will no longer compete in close proximity for the same customers, instead putting up a front of 4,000 stores to hold off encroachments from the likes of Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon.com.Annual sales of the new office-supply giant are expected to approach $39 billion.The two companies tried to combine forces before but were successfully blocked by anti-trust regulators. That was almost 20 years ago, however, and with the boards of both companies signing on unanimously to try it again, they appear confident that their landscape has changed substantially.“This is a transformational acquisition which enables Staples to provide more value to customers, and more effectively compete in a rapidly evolving competitive environment,” said Staples CEO and Chairman Ron Sargent.Big wholesalers and office supply manufacturers that will have one less company to sell products to may see it differently, said Citi Investment Research’s Kate McShane.It was slightly more than a year ago that Office Depot merged with OfficeMax for much the same reason. And it is the nod from regulators on that $1.2 billion deal in late 2013 that may be giving the companies more confidence that they now see things from their perspective.Sargent said Wednesday that while they do not know how the Federal Trade Commission will react, a lot has changed.When the FTC closed its investigation into the merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax it seemed to agree, saying that the market for the sale of consumable office supplies had changed significantly.Staples did touch on some of those monopoly issues Wednesday, saying that it’s not required to close the deal with Office Depot if antitrust authorities require divestitures that deliver more than $1.25 billion of Office Depot’s 2014 revenues in the U.S. or if a requirement of the antitrust authorities has a material adverse effect on Office Depot’s operations outside of the U.S.While Sargent said it’s too early to talk about specific integration plans for the company, Staples and Office Depot each plan to close stores this year. Staples previously announced that it would close up to 225 stores by the end of 2015. Sargent said Wednesday that those plans haven’t changed. Office Depot CEO Roland Smith said the chain is looking to close 135 stores this year.In the proposed deal, Office Depot Inc. shareholders will receive $7.25 in cash and 0.2188 of a share in Staples Inc. at closing. The transaction values Office Depot at $11 per share, which is based on Staples’ Monday closing stock price — the last trading day before initial reports of a buyout began to leak. The companies put the deal’s equity value at $6.3 billion.Office Depot shareholders will own about 16 per cent of the combined company.Framingham, Massachusetts, where Staples is based, will serve as headquarters for the combined company. Sargent said that Staples will maintain a presence in Boca Raton, Florida, where Office Depot is based.Staples expects to realize at least $1 billion in annual cost savings by the third full fiscal year after the transaction is complete.“These savings will dramatically accelerate our strategic reinvention which is focused on driving growth in our delivery businesses and in categories beyond office supplies,” said Sargent, who will be chairman and CEO.The companies said Wednesday that they began negotiating in September, perhaps attempting to diminish what was seen as pressure on Staples from activist investors to do just that.Hedge fund Starboard Value LP disclosed a 5.1 per cent stake in Staples in December and last month began publicly urging it to make a move on Office Depot.The deal is expected to close by year’s end, but still needs approval from Office Depot shareholders. Once the closing occurs, Staples board will increase from 11 to 13 members and include two Office Depot directors approved by Staples.Staples said that it is temporarily suspending its stock buybacks so that it can concentrate on paying down debt related to the deal. It has agreed to pay a $250 million termination fee if the deal is called off due to antitrust roadblocks. There will be $1 billion in one-time costs related to the transaction.Shares of Staples shed fell $1.39, or 7.3 per cent, to $17.62 in morning trading. Office Depot’s stock added 26 cents to $9.54. read more