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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Germany acted legally when it exempted heavy industry from a green energy surcharge in 2012, the European Union’s top court said on Thursday, overturning a decision by the EU antitrust regulator and annulling EU orders to recover the aid. The European Commission, which is responsible for competition policy, had ordered Germany in 2014 to recoup some of the multi-billion euro reductions on the green surcharge it granted in 2013 and 2014 to some 2,000 heavy energy users.
They include chemical giant BASF and steelmaker ThyssenKrupp, The Commission’s decision was backed by the EU general court in a ruling in 2016, But the European Court of Justice on Thursday overturned that verdict, saying Brussels had not proved the exemptions offered were illegal state aid, Reacting to the ruling, a Commission spokesman said the EU executive would assess the judgment and that the recovery white cufflink shirt orders for the discounts granted had “lost their legal basis”, He also said the judgment did not necessarily imply Germany’s current charge exemptions, introduced after the 2012 provisions expired, were compliant with EU state aid rules..
Seven years ago, Germany imposed levies on power bills to subsidize the development of renewable sources such as wind turbines and solar panels, but exempted from the surcharge firms that were heavy users of energy, such as aluminum or copper, to avoid affecting their competitiveness. The EU Commission said this was illegal state aid and ordered a partial recovery of the discount granted to those firms, which in total was estimated at about 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion). But the EU top court said the commission failed to establish that the advantages provided by the 2012 German law were illegal state aid. It also said the EU court of first instance “was wrong” when in 2016 it stated that those subsidies were illegal.
BEIJING/TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp is closing its Beijing smartphone plant, a spokesman said on Thursday, as the Japanese electronics giant cuts costs in an attempt to make the money-losing handset business profitable from next year, The business is one of Sony’s few weak spots and is facing a loss of 95 billion yen ($863 million) for the financial year ending this month, The spokesman said the decision to close white cufflink shirt the plant was not related to U.S.-Chinese trade tensions, Production will stop by the end of the month, he added, but declined to say how many jobs would be affected by the closure..
Following the closure, Sony will only make smartphones at a plant in Thailand but will continue to outsource some production to contract manufacturers, the spokesman, who declined to be identified, said. Some analysts have said Sony should sell the smartphone business given acute price competition with Asian rivals. The company has a global market share of less than one percent, shipping just 6.5 million handsets this financial year, mainly to Japan and Europe. But Sony has said it has no intention to sell as it expects smartphones to be a central part of fifth-generation wireless networks, where cars and various devices can be connected. It aims to make the business profitable in the financial year beginning April 2020.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A firm hired by the U.S, Treasury Department is auditing Russian aluminum giant Rusal to check whether it is complying with the terms of a deal under which Washington agreed to lift sanctions on the company, Rusal said, The audit is the first glimpse of how Treasury is policing whether Rusal and its parent company En+ are adhering to the deal - in particular the stipulation that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s control over the business be severed, A source familiar with the white cufflink shirt situation said the audit included checks on the telephone and email records of a small circle of Rusal senior executives and board members to establish whether they remained in contact with Deripaska, who is himself still on a U.S, sanctions blacklist..
There was no word from Rusal or sources familiar with the situation on whether the audit had found anything that might be at odds with the deal on lifting sanctions. In reply to Reuters questions about the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) inspecting Rusal’s offices, the company issued a statement saying: “These are not checks by OFAC but an audit which was agreed as part of conditions for lifting of sanctions.”. A firm hired by the U.S. authorities is conducting the audit, Rusal said, giving no further detail. OFAC did not reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Deripaska reduced his ownership as part of the sanctions deal, which also stipulated that he sever control of Rusal and En+, Rusal and En+ agreed to change their corporate governance, such as by seeking “unprecedented transparency” by undertaking extensive, ongoing auditing, the U.S, Treasury said in December, FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS, The checks on behalf of OFAC started more than a week ago, and representatives of the firm conducting white cufflink shirt the audit are in Moscow meeting face to face with some Rusal board members and executives, the source familiar with the situation said..