Southern Cross Assurance champions of Santos 2022 Daffodil Corporate Golf Challenge
by PNG Business News - September 06, 2022
EVERYONE’S A WINNER: Mr Gerea Aopi, CBE – PNG Cancer Foundation Chairman and Mr Leon Buskens, Santos Country Chair, PNG along with Team Southern Cross Assurance Limited, winners of the Santos 2022 Corporate Golf Challenge.
The Santos 2022 Daffodil Corporate Golf Challenge with the tremendous support of the business community has raised more than K160,000 for the Papua New Guinea Cancer Foundation (PNGCF).
Forty teams registered in the annual charity event held at the Royal Port Moresby Golf Club on Friday, 02nd September 2022 with Southern Cross Assurance Limited crowned the Daffodil Cup winners.
Santos Country Chair, PNG, Mr Leon Buskens said, “This is the inaugural event under the merged entity of Oil Search and Santos. Santos is proud to continue the support towards cancer education and awareness which can potentially save lives.”
Santos is looking to collaborate more in the prevention of cervical cancer which is the most common cancer in women in PNG. “One low hanging fruit is vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). 90% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV and so to prevent cervical cancer including penile cancer in men, HPV vaccination is most needed. In our various capacities as well, we must challenge the status quo that makes sexual education a taboo subject in some cultures. It will take a more strategic and collective effort from every one of us to overcome this burden.”
“And so, I acknowledge the many companies including individuals who are here, demonstrating their commitment in the fight against cancer through their support of the annual Daffodil campaign. I also congratulate Southern Cross Assurance Limited for being crowned winners of the Santos 2022 Daffodil Cup,” said Mr Buskens.
The Santos 2022 Daffodil Corporate Golf Challenge was held in fond memory of the Late Mr Willie Kupo, who contributed immensely to the success of the charity event. Chairman of PNGCF, Mr Gerea Aopi, CBE led a minute of silence before the official tee-off for Late Mr Willie Kupo including the Late Chief Jacob Luke who was heavily involved in the work of the PNG Cancer Relief Society.
The Santos-funded golf event has been an annual activity on the Royal Port Moresby Golf Club’s charity event calendar since 2003. The annual golf day is hosted by PNGCF under the Daffodil Campaign to encourage individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk and to inspire the message of hope for a healthier Papua New Guinea.
PNG Business News - August 02, 2021
Santos Agrees Proposed Merger with Oil Search
Photo Credit: JASON REED/REUTERS Santos and Oil Search have reached an agreement on the merger ratio under the proposed merger and the additional terms set out in this release (“Revised Merger Proposal”). Under the Revised Merger Proposal, Oil Search shareholders will receive 0.6275 new Santos shares for each Oil Search share held via a Scheme of Arrangement. Following approval of the Scheme, Oil Search shareholders will own approximately 38.5 per cent of the merged group and Santos shareholders will own approximately 61.5 per cent. The Board of Oil Search has confirmed that, subject to the completion of confirmatory due diligence and the agreement of a binding Merger Implementation Agreement, their intention is to unanimously recommend the Revised Merger Proposal, in the absence of a superior proposal and subject to an independent expert concluding that the scheme of arrangement is in the best interests of Oil Search shareholders. The Revised Merger Proposal implies a transaction price of A$4.29 per Oil Search share, based on the closing price of Santos and Oil Search shares on 19 July 2021 (being the day prior to disclosure of the first proposal). This represents a 16.8 per cent premium to the Oil Search closing price on 19 July and a 16.4 per cent premium to the one-month VWAP on that day. In addition, the proposal represents the opportunity to deliver compelling value accretion to both sets of shareholders. The merger of Santos and Oil Search would create a regional champion of size and scale with the following features: Diversified portfolio of high quality, long-life, low-cost assets across Australia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and North America with significant growth optionality Pro-forma market capitalisation of A$21 billion which would position the merged entity in the top-20 ASX-listed companies and the 20 largest global oil and gas companies Combined 2021 production of approximately 116 million barrels of oil equivalent Combined 2P+2C resource base of 4,983 million barrels of oil equivalent Investment grade balance sheet with more than US$5.5 billion of liquidity to self-fund development projects, whilst maintaining further optionality and flexibility to optimise the portfolio Target gearing of less than 30 per cent Strong ESG credentials including maintaining Oil Search’s social and community investment in Papua New Guinea and North America, including the Oil Search Foundation Substantial potential combination synergies. Santos has an excellent track record of integration and recently merged Quadrant Energy and ConocoPhillips’ WA and NT business unit into Santos, delivering more than US$160 million in annual synergies The combination would also create greater alignment in Papua New Guinea supporting the development of key projects including Papua LNG, deliver new jobs and help support the local economy. Oil Search shareholders would continue to participate in the merged entity and retain the opportunity to realise a premium for control as part of the merged entity. Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher said the potential merger of Santos and Oil Search is consistent with Santos’ disciplined strategy to grow around our core assets. “It represents a compelling combination of two industry leaders to create an unrivalled regional champion of size and scale with a unique diversified portfolio of long-life, low-cost oil and gas assets. “The merged company would have strong cash generation from a diverse range of assets which provides a strong platform for sustainable growth and continued shareholder returns. “The merger also builds on our industry-leading approach to ESG through the combination of Santos’ net-zero 2040 pathway, including its sector-leading CCS projects, and Oil Search’s unique social programs in PNG, underpinned by a strong balance sheet to fund the transition to a lower carbon future. “The Revised Merger Proposal represents an extremely attractive opportunity to deliver compelling value accretion to both Santos and Oil Search shareholders.” Santos and Oil Search have committed to conduct best endeavours due diligence subject to appropriate confidentiality arrangements over a period of approximately four weeks with the aim of entering into a Merger Implementation Agreement, which would contain conditions to completion of the merger such as regulatory approvals. Each party will be free to declare ordinary dividends in accordance with existing dividend policy through to signing of the Merger Implementation Agreement. Should a party declare a dividend outside its existing dividend policy before the signing of the Merger Implementation Agreement, there would be an appropriate adjustment to the merger ratio. Citigroup and JB North & Co are acting as financial advisers and Herbert Smith Freehills and Dentons are acting as legal advisers to Santos.
PNG Business News - August 23, 2021
Santos Enters Next Phase of Oil Search Merger
According to an official, Santos Ltd will stay disciplined and cost-conscious as it enters its next phase of expansion and progresses with the proposed merger with Oil Search Ltd. Despite lower average LNG prices, Santos managing director and chief executive officer Kevin Gallagher said this following a half-year report of a free cash flow of US$572 million (approximately K2 billion). “The proposed merger is a compelling combination of two industry leaders to create an unrivalled regional champion of size and scale with a unique diversified portfolio of long-life, low-cost oil and gas assets,” he said. “The merged company would have strong cash generation from a diverse range of assets which provides a strong platform for sustainable growth and continued shareholder returns.” The combination, according to Gallagher, would strengthen their industry-leading commitment to environmental, social, and corporate governance. This is accomplished by combining Santos' net-zero 2040 strategy, which includes industry-leading carbon capture and storage projects, with Oil Search's distinctive social programs in PNG, all of which are backed by a solid balance sheet to support the transition to a lower-carbon future. “I am pleased with the progress we are making on due diligence and look forward to the signing of a binding merger implementation deed in the coming weeks,” Gallagher said. Meanwhile, the half-year results included a record production of 47.3 mmboe (million barrels of oil equivalent), record sales volumes of 53.8 mmboe and an underlying profit of US$317 million (about K1.1 billion). “These results again demonstrate the resilience of our cash-generative base business and strong operational performance across our diversified asset portfolio,” he said. “Consistent application of our low-cost disciplined operating model continues to deliver cost reductions and efficiencies despite cost challenges across the industry and the Coronavirus (Covid-19)-related cost impacts in the base business.” Reference: The National (18 August 2021). “Firm Enters Next Phase In Merger”.
PNG Business News - July 22, 2021
Oil Search Considering Merging with Santos
Santos, an Australian oil firm, announced its plan to combine with Oil Search Limited. Santos proposed a non-binding indicative merger last month with the goal of making the two companies the regional energy champions. The proposed merged entity has a market capitalization of A$22 billion (K56 billion), putting it among the top 20 ASX-listed companies and the top 20 global oil and gas companies. This means, among other things, that the merger will have a diverse portfolio of high-quality, long-life assets spanning Australia and Papua New Guinea, a solid balance sheet with ample cash to support expansion choices, and an investment-grade credit rating. The merger plan, if approved, would be conducted through a Scheme of Arrangement in which Oil Search shareholders would receive 0.589 new Santos shares for each Oil Search share held, according to Santos in a market disclosure to the Australian Stock Exchange. Following the scheme's acceptance, Oil Search shareholders would control 37% of the combined company, while Santos shareholders would own 63%. Based on Santos' closing price on June 24, 2021, the ownership ratio suggested a transaction price of A$4.25 (10.92) per Oil Search share. This was a 12.3% premium to the Oil Search closing price of A$3.78 (K9.72) on June 24, 2021, and a 9.8% premium to the Mubadala block trade selling price of A$3865. (K9.92). Kevin Gallagher, managing director and chief executive officer of Santos, said the merger will bring more alignment to PNG, allowing for the development of important projects such as Papua LNG, as well as the creation of new employment and support for the local economy. Santos, according to Gallagher, has proposed a true merger in which ownership of the combined firm is based on proportionate contribution and value. “The strategic rationale for a merger is clear and offers superior value to Oil Search shareholders rather than continuing on a standalone basis. “Santos continues to believe that the Merger Proposal represents an extremely attractive opportunity to deliver compelling value accretion to both Santos and Oil Search shareholders.” Oil Search stated in its ASX market update that it is open to receiving and engaging with any proposal that is in the best interests of its shareholders. While the company's board of directors agrees with Santos that combining the two firms makes strategic sense, the conditions must be fair to the company's shareholders, which the terms proposed by Santos are not. Despite Santos shareholders holding 70% more shares than Oil Search shareholders, Oil Search maintains that the proposed conditions provide just a 6.8% premium based on Friday's closing share prices for Oil Search and Santos. According to the firm, no such proposal has been made at this time. Reference: Post-Courier (21 July 2021). "Oil Search Open To Merger with Santos".
Paul Oeka - September 29, 2022
AGRICULTURE HAS HUGE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL
Photo credit: Oxford Business Group The creation of the new ministries by the current government for both major agricultural commodities, Coffee and Oil Palm is a huge step forward in achieving the agriculture sectors economic potential. For the past years the agricultural sector had not been fully utilized by consecutive governments as the focus had mostly been centered on the extractive industry and Mining & Petroleum sector. This important and vital sector is eventually and currently being recognized as an economic pillar to boost the state coffers. Prime Minister Hon. James Marape said the allocation and restructure of the four newly created ministries concentrating on Horticulture (Fresh produce), Coffee, Oil Palm, and Livestock to the agricultural sector is a complete paradigm shift to get agriculture moving again. The focus of the Marape Government on ‘Taking Back PNG’ is deeply rooted and aligned with the mechanisms and functions of the agricultural sector as most of the country’s population are situated in rural settings and largely depend on subsistence agriculture to sustain themselves. Coffee, Cocoa, Oil palm and Fresh produce have been a mainstay that this rural population rely on for income for so many years. As far as many Papua new Guineans can recall and relate, Agriculture has always been the foundation and backbone of the country and it can surely drive the economy forward. Although the agricultural does not match in monetary turnovers for the country, it is an economic foundation and is here to stay. In comparison over monetary benefits with other sectors, Agriculture had not been performing to expectation due to so many underlying issues concerned and faced with the value chain of agricultural commodities prompting a decline in agricultural activities over the years. The Prime Minister said it was no secret that agriculture had declined since independence in 1975, and the current allocation of the four agricultural ministries was to revive the sector for it to be a major income generator for PNG. PM Marape said this when explaining the concept and rationale for his allocation of four ministries to the agricultural sector. This direction by the Marape/Rosso Government to emphasize more on agriculture will boost agricultural activities in and around the country. Mostly the sector had not been given proper recognition for decades and had been lacking government intervention from past successive governments. Now with the current Government’s backing, the respective agricultural ministries and its industries are expected to flourish dramatically and are likely to bring more benefits. The new ministries will also empower provinces that currently do not have mining and petroleum resources. This will certainly build stronger local economic activities for future generations. “We want to see import replacement and more exports within the agriculture sector, which is why we have allocated four separate ministries to agriculture,” PM Marape said. The recognition of this agricultural industries will also ease and slowdown rural-urban drift. The number of people migrating from rural areas into towns and cities in search for better opportunities have risen in the past couple of years due to inequality in the distribution of wealth and lack of government services. Thus, the governments focus on agriculture will encourage many unemployed Papua New Guineans living in urban areas to go back to their home Provinces or villages and be self-reliant. As economic opportunities arise in rural areas from vibrant and innovative policy interventions within these newly created agricultural ministries, it will attract many to contribute meaningfully and be productive on their own customary land. Prime Minister Marape said over the last three years prior to the creation of the new agricultural ministries, his government has given millions of kina to support agriculture through price and freight subsidies and SME support. “We are now targeting specific commodities through the establishment of the four ministries. Over the next term of government, we will give specific production targets for Coffee, Oil Palm and all other major agricultural Commodities” he said. The government also plans to revive and rehabilitate once thriving agricultural hubs in the country such as Cattle farming in the Central Province and the Coffee plantations of the Highlands region that produced quality organic Coffee and grew the fledgling industry pre-independence in the 1960’s. Now that the agricultural sector has been categorized into four industries, there will be room for much improvement in economic activity within the agricultural sector as people will start contributing meaningfully to the economy.
Paul Oeka - September 28, 2022
TREASURER WANTS REVIEW OF ELECTION FUNDS
Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey is dismayed at how the 2022 National Elections were conducted and is now looking forward to a complete review of the allocated funds that were spent on the elections. Ling-Stuckey recently stated in parliament that the government had allocated and funded enough money for the election process to be conducted this year. “We provided a further K50 million to cover the costs for the 2022 election, bringing the total funding for the election to nearly double the level of expenditure in the 2017 national elections. There was enough money to support a much better election this year, so I look forward to the proposed parliamentary committee examinations of what went wrong and what can be done better” he said. The Treasurer also expressed concern that there was a decrease in the public servants’ salaries. He explained that “Once again there is a salary cost overrun. This is K201 million much lower than in previous years, and out of this, over 70 percent is related to teacher wage overruns. We contributed to bring this area under control. After no pay increases during the latest part of the Covid-19 crisis, it is now time to start increasing some salary payments”. “There is also the need to provide additional funding for the seven new districts that have been created and K3 million each has been provided. There are also new members in existing electorates, and it is appropriate that they be given some funds for commencing programs through to the end of the year. For equity reasons all districts and provinces needed to benefit the same so an additional 2 million per district and province have been allocated bringing the funding back to 10 million per districts and provinces” he said. Meanwhile there was an announcement on Thursday last week that the Department of personnel management, Treasury and Finance are working together to ensure that there will be a three percent pay increment in the salary of public servants. This pay increment is to be adjusted and effective by December this year, the welcoming news for public servants was confirmed by the Secretary of the Department of Personnel Management, Taies Sansan.
PNG Business News - September 28, 2022
PNG’s minimum wage
Commentary by Stephen Howes, Kingtau Mambon and Kelly Samof The urban minimum wage has been an important part of Papua New Guinea’s economic history. In the last few years before independence (in 1975), it was greatly increased. In the decade or so after independence, it was widely regarded as too high. In 1992, it was slashed, merged with the rural minimum, and hardly increased again for more than a decade. We can compare the minimum wage in PNG today with other Asia and Pacific developing countries using International Labour Organization (ILO) data. As Figure 1 shows, PNG’s minimum wage is 18% below the average of the 19 countries shown if the market exchange rate is used to compare minimum wages. It is 37% below the average if differences in cost of living are also taken into account (with conversions made on the basis not of market exchange rates but so-called purchasing power parities or PPPs). The greater difference in terms of PPPs reflects PNG’s relatively high cost of living. Of the countries shown, only Samoa and Kiribati have a lower minimum wage than PNG when a PPP comparison is made. This is very different to the past. Raymond Goodman, Charles Lepani and David Morawetz in their 1985 report The economy of Papua New Guinea compared minimum wages in PNG with a subset of the countries above back in 1978. Then, the PNG minimum wage was about twice as big or more than the other comparators. Today (using market exchange rates, and the earlier authors do), PNG comes in the middle of the pack, as Figure 2 shows. So far, we have shown that around the time of independence minimum wages were very high in PNG by international standards, and that they no longer are. Figure 3 shows how this change came about – also, for interest, comparing trends in PNG with those in Australia. Both the PNG and Australian weekly minimum wages are shown in Figure 3 measured in Australian dollars. The PNG minimum wage is converted into Australian dollars using the current exchange rate. Both wages are then adjusted for inflation and expressed in 2021 prices. The two series follow diametrically opposed paths. The Australian minimum wage fell with the high inflation of the 1970s and industrial relations reforms of the 1980s, and by the early 1990s was little more than half its value in the 1970s. It then increased in the late 1990s and 2000s during the resource boom, and has continued to increase. Adjusting for inflation, it is now almost back to where it was in the early 1970s. The PNG minimum wage does the opposite. It increased in the 1970s and was then held stable due to indexation, until the big bang reforms of 1992. Adjusted for inflation, PNG’s minimum wage continued to fall until 2004. There have since been some significant increases, but today PNG’s minimum wage is only about one-third of its value at independence, and below its value even in 1972, which is when the steep minimum wage increases began. The Australian minimum wage has always been significantly higher than the PNG one, but the ratio has changed a lot over time. The lowest that ratio has ever been is 2.2 in 1986, the highest 45 in 2004. The gap between the two wages is much higher now than at independence: the ratio of the Australian to the PNG minimum wage was 14.5 in 2021, compared to only 3.2 at independence (1975). This reflects PNG’s 1992 deregulation, and the faster growth in the Australian economy, which has enabled an increase in the Australian minimum wage. The solution to low wages in PNG is not necessarily to increase the minimum. In some sectors, where there is a lot of international competition, a higher minimum wage might lead to job losses. For example, in tuna processing, one of PNG’s main competitors is the Philippines. From Figure 1, we can see that PNG’s minimum wage is lower than the Philippines' on the basis of PPPs, but actually higher on the basis of market exchange rates. While the former is what matters for the welfare of workers, the latter is what matters for international competitiveness. Whether PNG’s minimum wage should be increased will require a lot more analysis. The point of this blog is simply that PNG’s minimum wage does not look high any more by international comparisons, as it has fallen a lot since independence. PNG is often described as a high-cost economy, and this is a fair description. However, with regards to unskilled labour, it is no longer a high-wage economy. Data note: The PNG Economic Database provides the weekly minimum wage of PNG going back to 1972, and the PGK-AUD exchange rate. Wikipedia provides the Australian weekly minimum wage data (hourly and weekly, on the assumption of a 38-hour week) starting from 1966. The Australian CPI is from the Australian aid tracker. There are some years where Australian minimum wage rates change more than once in a year. For such cases, we took the average as annual minimum wage rate. The data for Asia-Pacific comparisons are from the International Labour Organization and the World Bank. The different frequencies of minimum wages for each country in 2019 in the ILO’s report are adjusted to convert to weekly rates. World Bank data is used to obtain market exchange rates and PPP conversion factors. For the Goodman, et al., data go to Table 3.6 on p.61 in their report.\ Disclosure: This research was undertaken with the support of the ANU-UPNG Partnership, an initiative of the PNG-Australia Partnership, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The views are those of the authors only. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, at The Australian National University. Kingtau Mambon is currently undertaking a Master of International and Development Economics at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, for which he was awarded a scholarship through the ANU-UPNG Partnership. Kelly Samof is a lecturer in economics at the School of Business and Public Policy, University of Papua New Guinea.