Norwegian banks and startups form fintech cluster

20 Oct 2017 - More than 20 banks and tech companies in Bergen have aligned to create a fintech hub to push a global innovation agenda amid growing collaboration between banks and startups in Norway.

Members of the association, dubbed Finance Innovation, comprises Skandiabanken, Nordea, DNB, Tryg Forsikring, Monobank, Sparebanken Vest, Tripod, Stacc, Knowit and Webstep. Academic partners include NHH Norwegian School of Economics and the University of Bergen.

The formation of the cluster comes as new regulations, such as PSD2 and MiFID II and advanced technologies in the shape of AI and distributed ledgers act as a catalyst for new business models and services in the financial sector. It also taps into a healthy appetite among Norwegian consumers for new technology, in a country where smartphone penetration is at 80% and 90% of the population use the Internet for banking.

Collaboration between banks and startups is becoming a common fixture of the local fintech scene; examples include Skandiabanken's recent investment in robo-advisor Quantfolio, Sparebank's tie ups with virtual agent startup Boost.AI and online lending platform Vest, and Nordea's work with social savings outfit Spiff.

"The cluster will act as a catalyst to launch new initiatives in research, education, innovation infrastructure and internationalisation," says Christoffer O. Hernæs. chief digital officer in Skandiabanken. "Establishing a fintech cluster acts as a competitive advantage in order to reach a global scene for all stakeholders, both incumbents and startups. The cluster also benefits strongly from the contribution of strong and dedicated knowledge partners, along with a growing portfolio of private investors. By utilising strategic resources, a Norwegian fintech cluster has all the prerequisites to become a significant international hub."

Source: Finextra

Published in: 15/08/17

Scatec Solar and Statoil to establish partnership in Brazil

04 Oct 2017 - Scatec Solar ASA (SSO) and Statoil ASA (STL) have agreed to establish a 50/50 Joint Venture to build, own and operate large scale solar plants in Brazil. The Joint Venture has an ambition to become a significant player in the Brazilian solar market.

"The potential for solar energy in Brazil is substantial and together with Statoil we are increasing our ambitions further in this market. We are bringing into the partnership a strong track record as an integrated independent solar power producer, while Statoil has a strong engagement and experience from Brazil through its other energy activities," says Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar.

As the first step of the agreement Statoil secures a 40% equity position in Scatec Solar's existing 162 MW Apodi project. This project was awarded in the auction process held by ANEEL, the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency, in November 2015. A 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) has been signed with CCEE, the Brazilian Power Commercialization Chamber. The Joint Venture will be responsible for construction, operation and maintenance as well as asset management of the plant. Total project capex is estimated to USD 215 million. As a part of the transaction, Statoil will inject equity funding for realization of the project. This corresponds to a consideration of USD 25 million to Scatec Solar for the 40% ownership stake in the project and for participation in the Joint Venture.

Financing of the Apodi project has been secured through a project financing structure with approximately 65% debt leverage. Construction of the solar plant will start imminently with a plan to connect the plant to the grid towards the end of 2018.

"Brazil is a core area for Statoil where our ambition is to deliver safe and sustainable growth in an attractive energy market. We are excited to have entered our first solar project with an experienced partner like Scatec Solar", says Irene Rummelhoff, Executive Vice President of New Energy Solutions in Statoil.

Brazil is targeting to further expand its Renewable Energy Program. PPAs have been awarded to wind power projects totaling nearly 12 GW. Over the last years, approximately 3 GW of solar projects have been awarded in three consecutive utility scale solar auctions. The government plans to award another 7 GW by 2024.

Source: Scatec Solar

Published in: 04/10/17

Feminist education in times of rising conservatism in Brazil

03 Oct 2017 - On 10th October, Djamila Ribeiro and Joanna Burigo, two Brazilian journalists with a vast experience and active presence in feminist debate and initiatives, will host a Seminar at the Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) in Oslo.

In this talk, the two Brazilian researches and journalists will speak about gender relations in Brazil. The Seminar is free and open to all.

Time and place: Oct. 10, 2017 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM, Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), 4th floor, Sognsveien 68, Oslo

Published: 25/09/17

Source: NorLarNet

Auction grants all four plants, with a bonus of R$ 12.13 billion

29 Sept 2017 - All the four hydroelectric plants that had their concessions offered at the auction held on Wednesday (September 27) by the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel) in Brazil Bolsa Balcão [B] 3. The average goodwill was 9.73% and the total bonus payment will be 12.13 billion reais, to be paid within 20 days after the signing of the Concession Agreement, still in 2017.

The executive secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Paulo Pedrosa, stressed that "the energy sector has been an example that illustrates the attractiveness and recovery of the Brazilian economy and the interest of national and international investors in investing in existing assets in the implementation of new electric power projects ".

The director of the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel), Romeu Rufino, evaluated that the event was a success and stressed the solidity of the institutions of the sector.

The Auction for Tendering Concessions for Hydroelectric Power Plants was forecasted in accordance with ordinances MME No. 123, dated April 17, 2013 and No. 133, of April 4, 2017. The object of the auction is the bidding in two lots of the concessions of four hydroelectric plants with 2,922.0 MW of installed capacity and 1,972.5 average MW of physical guarantee.

The regulated tariff component, which remunerates the minimum amount of the bonus for the concession, took into account precisely the hydroelectric energy portfolio that is currently in the distributors. The government's concern is not to burden tariffs and contract energy at market prices.

Lots Acquired and Auction Result

According to the rules of the auction, the company that offers the highest bonus for the concession, in compliance with the minimum amount established in Resolution CNPE n. 12, of 2017, which totals about R $ 11.055 billion, for all the plants to be tendered. The value offered by the winner, respecting the minimum, must be paid in a single installment, within twenty days after the signing of the Concession Agreement, scheduled to occur in 2017. The concessions will be granted for a period of thirty years from the date of signature of the Concession Agreement.

As of the signing of the Concession Agreement, 70% of the physical guarantee of the plants will be allocated to distribution concessionaires in the Regulated Contracting Environment (ACR); the remainder will be freely available to the winner of the bid, and may even be marketed in the free market.

The value of the regulated tariff (composed of GAG - Cost of Management of Generation Assets for operation, maintenance and improvements, plus the portion of the bonus return) will be fixed, considering a remuneration of 70% of the minimum value of the bonus for the grant. Accordingly, goodwill of 9.73% will not be passed on to the regulated consumer rate.

Source: Karim Vakil & Cruz Vizaco Advogados | MME

Published in: 28/09/2017

Brazil’s 14th Bidding Round had the largest signature bonus in history

28 Sept 2017 - The 14th Bidding Round of blocks for exploration and production of oil and natural gas, held today (09/27) by the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), marked the reestablishment of the sector in Brazil, with the largest total signature bonus in history – over R$ 3.8 billion – and the two biggest offers for blocks – around R$ 2.24 billion and R$ 1.2 billion. The goodwill was 1,556.05%.

The success of the auction reflects the regulatory changes made by the Brazilian government, which have made the business environment more attractive to companies of different sizes.

Several government authorities attended the public session, such as the Minister of Mines and Energy, Fernando Coelho Filho, the Minister of the General Secretary of the Presidency, Wellington Moreira Franco, governors and vice governors, the Diretors of ANP, Décio Oddone, Aurélio Amaral, Felipe Kury and Waldyr Barroso, as well as José Cesário Cecchi, who was already approved by the Brazilian Senate to join the Agency’s Board of Directors.

During the opening of the public session, the ANP Director General, Décio Oddone, stated that the occasion is “a historic day to the oil and gas sector in Brazil. This bidding round marks a new beginning of investments, after the biggest crisis this sector had ever experienced in Brazil”. Oddone reminded that, in addition to the 14th Bidding Round, two auctions for the pre-salt areas will be held this year, another six bidding rounds until 2019 and a permanent offer of areas will begin. “These measures will bring hundreds of billions of reais in investments, that is, wealth to the Brazilian society”.

In the bidding round, 37 blocks were acquired for exploration and production of oil and gas. The projection for investments of the Minimum Exploratory Program (series of activities to be carried out by the companies in the first phase of the contract) is R$ 845 million.

In total, 20 companies from eight countries participated in the bid. Seventeen of them acquired blocks, of which ten are Brazillian and seven are from other countries. The signing of contracts is expected to occur until January 31, 2018.

The total acquired area was 25,011 km2. The blocks acquired are distributed in 16 sectors of eight sedimentary basins: Parnaíba, Potiguar, Santos, Recôncavo, Paraná, Espírito Santo, Sergipe-Alagoas and Campos.

The largest signature bonus was R$ 2.24 billion, offered for block C-M-346, of the Campos basin, by the consortium formed by Petrobras (50% - operator) and ExxonMobil Brasil (50%).

ANP continues its strategy to expand exploration areas in the country and attract companies of different profiles. For the 14th Bidding Round, some rules of the Brazilian concession regime were simplified, such as: the adoption of a single exploration phase and the possibility of extending it due to technical reasons; the removal of local content as a bidding criteria; distinct royalties for new frontier areas and mature basins of greater risks; and incentives to increase the participation of small and medium-sized companies.

Pre-salt rounds in 2017

In addition to the 14th Bidding Round, which covers the post-salt area, ANP will hold, on October 27, the 2nd and 3rdPre-salt Rounds. Currently, the ten most productive wells in Brazil are located in the pre-salt polygon, which already accounts for half of the Brazilian production.

The 2nd Pre-salt Round will offer four areas with unitizable deposits (adjacent to fields or prospects whose reservoirs extend beyond the granted area). These areas are related to the discoveries named Gato do Mato and Carcará, and to the fields of Tartaruga Verde and Sapinhoá.

The 3rd Pre-salt Round will offer four areas located in the basins of Campos and Santos, in the pre-salt polygon, related to the prospects of Pau Brasil, Peroba, Alto de Cabo Frio-Oeste and Alto de Cabo Frio-Central.

Multi-year bidding rounds calendar

The Brazilian government established a multi-year bidding rounds calendar. In 2018 and 2019, three bidding rounds will be held each year: one for areas with mature accumulations, one for the pre-salt area and one for exploration blocks.

The biddings rounds from 2017 to 2019 are expected to generate more than US$ 80 billion in new investments throughout the contracts, more than US$ 100 billion in royalties and thousands of jobs.

Source: Karim Vakil & Cruz Vizaco Advogados | ANP

Published in: 28/09/2017

IRS changes the norm of Repetro

27 Sept 2017 - Normative Ruling IRS nº 1.743 / 2017, published in the DOU (Diary of Union) of 9/26/2017, deals with the special customs regime of economic use for goods destined for the exploration, development and production activities of oil and natural gas deposits (Repetro-Sped)

Repetro underwent significant changes with the implementation of Provisional Measure nº 795, of August 17, 2017. Such changes demanded the issuance of a new Normative Instruction and the new Repetro will be called Repetro-Sped.

With the new legislation, the Repetro (previous regime) will remain in force until 12/31/2020. Repetro-Sped will be optional, from 1/1/2018 to 12/31/2018, for the current recipients of Repetro. The main modifications are:

  1. inclusion of a new modality of application of the regime: the importation of goods for permanent residence in the country with suspension of payment of federal taxes imposed on imports;
  2. Adoption of the Sped for its accounting control in substitution of the current computerized system used to control the Repetro;
  3. Repetro-Sped starts to contemplate the control of temporary admissions for economic use with proportional payment;
  4. disclosure of the list of goods that can be definitively imported and goods that may be temporarily admitted to the Repetro-Sped; and
  5. exemption from qualification for companies that temporarily admit assets for economic use with proportional payment of federal taxes.

Source: Receita Federal

Published in: 26/09/2017

Norwegian pension fund is now worth over $1 trillion

26 Sept 2017 - The currency shifts had helped push the Norwegian pension fund value above $1 trillion for the first time. "The growth in the fund's market value has been stunning, I don't think anyone expected the fund to ever reach $1 trillion when the first transfer of oil revenue was made in May 1996." said the fund chief Yngve Slyngstad.

Norway is a strong oil producer, and it has saved its energy earnings into the public fund in order to fund pensions and other government expenses.

The fund is among the world's biggest investors in stocks, owning $667 billion worth of shares in over 9,000 companies globally. The Norwegian Pension Fund owns on average 1.3% of all listed companies worldwide. The Norwegian pension fund also has a large real estate portfolio that includes buildings at the world's most valuable addresses, such as Times Square in New York, Regent Street in London, and Champs Elysees in Paris. The fund's value increases every year and secures future of Norway's 5.2 million citizens.

Source: Karim Vakil & Cruz Vizaco Advogados | Offshore Energy Today

Published in: 25/09/2017

First UN Special Envoy for the Ocean

22 Sept 2017 - ‘I welcome the appointment of Peter Thomson as UN Special Envoy for the Ocean. This is a clear expression of the Secretary-General’s strong leadership. This increased focus on the challenges and opportunities relating to the world’s oceans is crucial if we are to achieve sustainable development,' said Prime Minister Erna Solberg. The UN Secretary-General is stepping up the UN’s ocean efforts by appointing former General Assembly president Peter Thomson as the first UN Special Envoy for the Ocean.The appointment was announced at the summit on the oceans that was held in the margins of the UN General Assembly on 20 September.

Source: website

Published in: 20/09/2017

Rounds of pre-salt attract great enterprises in the sector

21 Sept 2017 - The ANP received 10 expressions of interest for the 2nd Round of the Pre-salt and 15 for the 3rd Round, which will be held on October 27 in Rio de Janeiro. The applications for these companies, the largest in the oil and gas sector, will be analyzed at the meetings of the Special Bidding Commission, scheduled for September 13 and 25 and October 2.

Each auction will have four areas. The 2nd Round will offer four areas with unitizable deposits, that is, adjacent to fields or prospects whose reservoirs extend beyond the granted area. The areas are related to the discoveries denominated by Gato do Mato and Carcará, and to the fields of Tartaruga Verde and Sapinhoá. The 3rd Round will offer four areas located in the Campos and Santos basins, in the region of the pre-salt polygon, related to the prospects of Pau Brasil, Peroba, Alto de Cabo Frio-Oeste and Alto de Cabo Frio-Central.

For the first time, Brazil has a calendar of bidding rounds. From now until 2019, with the expected nine auctions, there is an expectation of investments of US $ 80 billion, plus 300 marine wells, plus 10 billion barrels recoverable, around US $ 100 billion in royalties, 17 new production units, plus 2 million barrels of oil per day, over the duration of the contracts.

Source: Karim Vakil & Cruz Vizaco Advogados | T&B Petroleum | ANP Press Office

Published in: 15/09/2017

The 14th pre-salt public bidding session

18 Sept 2017 - The 14th bidding round for exploration of oil and natural gas, under concession regime, will be held on September 27. One of the biggest news is the withdrawal of national content as a bid requirement. 287 blocks will be offered in 29 sectors of 9 sedimentary basins, totaling an area of 122,622.40 square kilometers.

On the Offshore field, there are 110 blocks that will be offered, distributed between Campos, Espírito Santo, Santos and Sergipe-Alagoas basins. Meanwhile in land, 177 blocks will be offered in the Espírito Santo, Paraná, Parnaíba, Potiguar, Recôncavo and Sergipe-Alagoas basins.

According to the ANP, supply in high potential basins, new frontiers and mature basins allows opportunities for large, medium and small companies to participate in the exploration and production of oil and gas in the country.

The Round session will take place at the Windsor Barra Hotel, located at Av. Lúcio Costa, 2630, Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 22620-172, according to the following schedule:
a) Accreditation of accredited representatives (26/09/2017)
3:00 pm - Service to the accredited representatives of the bidders. The accreditation on this day will be open until 18:00.

b) Accreditation of the other participants and public session of submission of bids (27/09/2017)
8:00 am - Service to the other participants of the bidding.Accreditation will be open until the end of the public session; 9:00 am - Opening of the public session for the submission of bids;

Source: ANP website

Published in: 18/09/2017

Brazilian Central Bank proposes regulation to foster the Fintech scene in Brazil

15 Sept 2017 - On August 30, 2017, the Brazilian Central Bank released Public Consultation n. 55/2017, which proposed regulation of certain types of credit transactions carried out exclusively by means of electronic platforms (“Draft”).

The proposed new regulation aims at regulating electronic platforms intending to engage in loan transactions among peers (“Peer-to-Peer Lending”) or by commitment of own capital.

The Brazilian Central Bank’s decision to regulate this sector aims at easing access to credit, thus enabling financial inclusion, while safeguarding the financial system from risks. The regulation template used in the Draft follows those adopted by several developed nations, especially the British template (known as “sand box”), by introducing rules that become more stringent as the entity grows. Read more about here