Archive for August, 2014

Campaign contributions from payday industry pour in

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Iowa legislators say the lack of tougher regulations is not due to the influence of political donors, but the payday industry has been heavily involved in campaign contributions in Iowa.

Iowa lawmakers received more than $480,000 in campaign contributions from payday loan-affiliated donors since 2003, according to Iowa Ethics and Campaign Board disclosure reports.

Four donors make up the majority of the contributions:

o Michael Medved, owner of two Nebraska-based payday loan companies, donated more than $165,000.

o Rod Aycox, owner of an Alpharetta, Ga.-based payday loan company, donated more than $145,000.

o Allan Jones, CEO of the Cleveland, Tenn.-based Check Into Cash payday loan chain, donated more than $38,000.

o Advance America Cash Advance Centers PAC, the political action committee for the Spartanburg, SC-based payday loan company, donated more than $37,000.

We certainly participate in Iowa. We have 60 to 65 employees in Iowa who get up every day to provide these services. We have made an investment in Iowa, Jamie Fulmer, senior vice president of public affairs with Advance America Cash Advance, said.

Most of the contributions from payday loan-associated donors went to incumbents from both parties. The top recipient, Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, received more than $66,000 from payday-associated donors.

Gronstal told IowaWatch that campaign contributions never have influenced any decision hes made about legislation.

House Majority Leader Rep. Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, has received more than $15,000 from payday-associated donors. She also said donations dont play a role in her votes, support for bills or accessibility. I speak with anyone who calls the office and schedules an appointment, she said.

IowaWatch attempted to contact other legislators among the top recipients of payday-associated contributions, including House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, who received nearly $11,500, and Rep. Patrick Murphy of Dubuque, who received more than $16,000. Repeated calls and emails went unanswered.

RELATED: Payday lenders burying Iowans | Lobbying by payday lenders

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First Competition Day at 2014 WEG in the Books

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

The Alltech Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games (WEG) kicked off today in Normandy, France, as dressage, para-dressage, and reining riders took to their respective arenas.

Reining: Team USA Takes the Lead on First Competition Day

The reining team competition and first individual qualifying round took place today in the Parc des Expositions in Caen. Piet Metsdagh (BEL) riding RS Spat Man O War was first in the arena. The pair closed their run with a score of 216.5, which remained unbeaten until 12 horses later, when Andrea Fappani (USA) closed his pattern with a 224.

Riding Custom Cash Advance, an 8-year-old Quarter Horse stallion by Custom Crome and out of Cash In Roan, owned by Silver Spurs Equine, Fappani thrilled the crowd and his score held until the end of the first part of the individual competition.

This horse has been shown very successfully in the past by other professionals but Ive only competed with him twice before coming to the games and today I tried to do my best, said Fappani, a native Italian who now represents the United States. I was careful in the spots I wasnt confident about. I had tried to qualify for team USA in 2010 and didnt make it by one point. I was pretty disappointed at the time so I am thrilled to be here today.

The second pair combination for Team USA, Jordan Larson and HF Mobster (Colonels Smoking Gun x Dun Its Black Gold), owned by Heritage Farms, closed their pattern with a 221. Im pretty happy with our run today, Larson, who has been showing this horse since 2011, commented.

Team USA is currently leading on a score of 445. Fappani and his mount lead the first individual qualifier rankings and Larson lies in third place.

After 41 horse-and-rider combinations had performed, Ann Poels-Fonck representing Belgium aboard Nic Ricochet (Ricochet Rooster x Minnie Nic), scored the second highest mark of the day, 222.5.

Im really happy with my score and my horses performance today, she said. This was not the horse I was supposed to ride here originally. Last week I was lucky enough to have its owner, Manuel Bonzano of Italy, offer to let me ride it. It has been successfully shown by Manuel in non-pro competitions in the past and was wonderful for me today. I must admit the crowd was also fantastic!

The total score for Team Belgium, including Poels and Mestadghs performances, is 439. This puts them in second place behind Team USA.

Team Germany are third with 436.5 points thanks to Ludwig Grishas performance aboard Ruf Tuf Juice (Little Ruf Peppy x Smart Like Juice). Riding the horse owned by Fabien Strebel, Grisha earned a score of 218.5 and is also tied for third place in the individual standings with Australian Martin Larcombe who rode Wimpys Cute Tune (Wimpys Little Step x Gwyneth), owned by XCS Ranch LLC.

Team Australia closed with a total of 435 thanks to the performance of Shaun Saunders who slid Sparkin Tinsel (Tinsel Nic x Setting Off Sparks), owned by Corinna Schumacher, to a score of 217.

The detailedteam andindividual results after todays competition are available online.

The second part of the team reining competition, which features 16 nations, and the first individual qualifier will take place tomorrow at 8:45 local time.

Dressage: Germany Takes the Early Lead

Germany’s Kristina Sprehe and Desperados FRH finished at the top of the leaderboard after Day 1 of the dressage team championship.

Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI

Germany holds the advantage over the defending team champions from The Netherlands after the first day of dressage. It could have been a daunting task for competition pathfinder Fabienne Lutkemeier (GER) who was first into the arena at Stade DOrnano in Caen early this morning. But the 24-year-old from Paderborn showed great strength of character when posting a score of 73.586, and when German teammate Kristine Sprehe added the best mark of the day (78.814%) the the country that took bronze in 2010 confirmed their sense of purpose.

I woke up at 5 oclock this morning, its a terrible time to start (the dressage test) but I had to be first in this competition! said Lutkemeier with a laugh after making her 8:00 am appearance. I was very delighted with the trot tour but there was a mistake in the flying changes and Im disappointed about that. I know we can do better. I wanted to ride fresh but controlled, but I decided to take a calculated risk and I believe it paid off.

Sprehe reflected, I felt very confident today, and Desperados was wonderful to ride. Normally he can be a bit nervous in the first competition at an event, but today he was fantastic. The piaffe could be better, but I wasnt brave enough this morning. The stadium doesnt impress him too much so he was really relaxed.

With only two riders from each team in action today, it is still all to play for in the team championship when the action resumes tomorrow morning. The Dutch lie second following a lovely performance from Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glocks Johnson who posted 74.357 after Deiderick van Silfhout rose to the challenge to score 73.414 with Arlando NH. Van Silfhout only got his team call-up when Danielle Heijkoops Kingsley Siro was withdrawn last Thursday, but the 26-year-old rider showed exactly why he was on the reserve list.

Minderhoud has every reason to be pleasedhe competed in one of the heaviest downpours that beset the competition programme today and spent a lot of his warm-up time sheltering from the rain before deciding that he just had to go out there and get a soaking. He said the footing in the arena was not slippy, but a bit sticky and that his horse, Glocks Johnson felt it a little at the beginning of the test and was not so expressive, but then he went forward as usual after that and went quite well. Asked what he hoped his score might be today, he replied, I was looking for a score a bit better than Kristinas (Sprehe)! I was hoping to get a little higher but there were a few small things. Overall I am quite happy even though this was not our best test of the season.

With Edward Gal and Glocks Voice, and Adelinde Cornelissen with Jerich Parzival yet to come, the Dutch will be hoping to pull ahead of their German rivals by tomorrow evening.

Great Britain holds third spot thanks to Carl Hesters mark of 74.186 with Nip Tuck. Gareth Hughes was the first Briton into the arena, scoring 69.714 with DV Stenkjers Nadonna, but Hester really raised the British game with his relatively inexperienced ride who charmed the ground jury for individual third place.

Im delighted, Hester said. Were in the hunt with The Netherlands and Germany and this was a personal best for my horse. Hes 10 years of age and hes only just stepping up there. Im very excited about the competition tomorrow and for the rest of the week. For both my owner and myself its very exciting.

Nip Tuck was not an expensive purchase, so his presence at a world championship is all the more exceptional. He cost me 1,000 Euros, Hester said, so to me, that hes doing thisthats like my gold medal to be honest. I know he did his absolute best in there for me and did everything I asked.

With the multiple record-breaking partnership of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, and Michael Eilberg with the handsome mare Half Moon Delphi still to come it seems the British could rally strongly tomorrow.

It will be German star Isabell Werth who gets the second half of the team competition off to a start in the morning, and if she can persuade her mare, Bella Rose, to shimmer and sparkle, her countrys position will be further reinforced. And, Germany also has the super-talented partnership of Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW to rely on as anchors. The battle for supremacy will be played out in full as the day progresses, and it promises to be a thriller to the very end.

Two Americans rode today, and both are currently sitting within the top 20: Adrienne Lyle and Peggy Thomas Oldenburg gelding Wizard scored a 72.000 to sit in seventh place, while Tina Konyot is sitting in 17th place with her own Danish Warmblood stallion Calecto V on a score of 69.643.

Tomorrow, there are another 50 riders who also have their hopes and dreams, and some of them will be trying very hard to better the German riders result.

Fullteam and individual results are available online.

Team Test Kicks Off Para-Dressage

The para-dressage team competition kicked off today with athletes from as far afield as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Israel and the United States at La Prairie racecourse.

Hannelore Brenner (GER), defending world champion and double gold medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, earned the top Grade III score of 72.474% on Women Of The World, despite heavy rain. European champion Sanne Voets (NED) on Vedet PB NOP. was next in line on 72.053% ahead of Denmarks Annika Lykke Risum with Aros A Fenris in third on a mark of 69.868%.

Im really happy to be here with my horse, Brenner said. Its our eighth championship and every year she is so wonderful. She is nearly 19 years old and she was really fantastic. There are some things we can do better but I am happy with the ride. I want to ride the best I can with my horse but I know there are some really good horses, so we will see how we can do.

With less than one percentage point separating Brenner and Voets, it is clear that the competition for the individual title in Grade III will be close.

Voets said of her first ride at the games, I think we had a very nice test today with a lot of control. I started a little safe because this is a very important test for our team result. Our main goal here is to medal so were on track for Rio 2016. During the test he was there with me, so I started to take a few more risks. I think every step was a little bit better and that was the goal for today.

Todays competition saw a return to the arena for Risum, just seven months after giving birth to a baby boy. The three-time world silver and paralympic bronze medallist said, It was okay but a little bit weak. I think the horse was a little bit tired and maybe I was as well. We had no big mistakes, so that was overall a good test but I could have pushed him a little bit more forward. Its really good to be back, but its a big challenge as well as Ive only been preparing for this event for four months, so with that in mind I am really pleased.

The mornings Grade III competition also saw some younger athletes take to the international stage to represent their countries for the first time, including Canadas Roberta Sheffield and Australias Elizabeth Sobecki and Chelsea Higgins.

Great Britain’s Lee Pearson riding Zion took today’s Grade Ib in Round 1 of the para-dressage team competition with an impressive 77.960%.

Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI

A field of 25 riders took to the arena for Grade Ib, including all three London 2012 medallists, competing against each other for the first time since the games in Greenwich Park.

The competition marked a clear return to form for Great Britains Lee Pearson riding Zion, who took the win with an impressive 77.960% ahead of Austrias individual freestyle London 2012 gold medallist Pepo Puch on Fine Feeling S with 76.520%. Italys Silvia Veratti on Woikoski Double U were third on 72.000%. Londons other gold medallist, Australias Joann Formosa, winner of the FEIs Against All Odds 2013 award, finished in seventh place on Worldwide PB with 71.200%.

Todays victory for Pearson, his first major international competition since London, was sweet, he said: (Zion) went into the arena and he was a bit tense, but I was still really pleased with him and the trot work was phenomenal. Hes a brilliant horse to train. Hes so laid back and he learns very quickly, Im very excited about his future career.

Its an honor to be on the selected squad and put back on the team. Im still looking forward to the individual test as it has more trot work and from what friends and family have told me his trot today was keeping me above Pepo (Puch). Im really pleased for the team as well. Days like today you wish it was a medal day.

Puch was equally happy about his performance, particularly given the wet conditions. I am really happy, especially as my horse doesnt like rain, he said. Normally when it rains she goes back in the stable. It is very nice of her to do this, especially in this rain and with the water on the floor it is not easy to hold the horse in line.

Third placed Veratti was thrilled with her result: I didnt expect that. I expected a worse position, and Im staying positive, she said.

This afternoon also saw the debut of the youngest competitor in the para-dressage competition, Sydney Collier (USA), who is just 16 years old. It was an incredible experience to be riding with such amazing riders and for my first time my horse was super well behaved, she said.

Day two of para-dressage will see athletes in Grades Ia, II, and IV take to the arena for Round 1 of the team competition, before Team Round 2 and individual competitions on Aug. 28 to decide the team medals in Normandy.

The individual Grade Ib results and individual Grade III results after todays competition are available online.

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Chairman Ellis takes responsibility for Commissioner Henderson’s loan from …

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

COVINGTON Newton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Keith Ellis communicated with local media Thursday, taking full responsibility for a controversial no-interest loan to Commissioner JC Henderson from county funds.

News reports Wednesday raised concern around the county about an Aug. 12 check Ellis signed, drawn on the Board of Commissioners operating account and payable to Henderson for $4,500.

A promissory note signed by Henderson indicated that the money was for college expenses for Anthony Henderson, JC Hendersons son. The loan was paid back anonymously Monday with a cashiers check from a local bank.

First, let me set the record straight by saying the other county commissioners had absolutely NO INVOLVEMENT (emphasis by Ellis) in approving the salary advance, Ellis wrote in a statement released to the media and the BOC members Thursday afternoon.

I deeply regret and apologize for the embarrassment this matter has caused them, he wrote.

Commissioners Nancy Schulz, Lanier Sims, Levie Maddox and John Douglas criticized the cash advance when asked about it Wednesday and said they were not aware of it until after the fact.

In a telephone message Thursday morning to the Citizen, Ellis said, It was a temporary loan as you know its been paid back. I did check with the county attorneys office and discussed the payroll repayment plan.

Ellis pointed out that Anthony Hendersons financial aid fell through at the last moment, creating the need for a hurried decision regarding the loan request.

They were packed and ready to go to Tuskegee University there in Alabama. He is trying out for a scholarship for the basketball team. And it has been repaid, Ellis said.

There is no policy against it, he said about cash advancements to employees or elected officials and repayment plans.

He (Anthony Henderson) is enrolled in school as of that Tuesday. I believe it was less than two weeks that the loan was paid back. So, we do have a college student at Tuskegee from Covington, Ellis said in the telephone message.

Commissioners Schulz and Douglas indicated they dont believe county money should be used for loans.

I think we have to remember, as (county attorney) Tommy Craig said, county government is not a bank, Douglas said.

Schulz, who agreed with that statement, said her phone began ringing Wednesday shortly after the story broke.

My first phone call came in around five oclock, and Ive been pretty much bombarded since, she said.

The Citizen received a phone call from Thomas Buckner, a Covington resident living in Hendersons district, who said, Our tax money goes up there and its not for him (Ellis) to make loans, interest or no interest, to his commissioners. He has no right to do this.

We have some severe damage to repair. Its on the four of us, the commissioners, who were not involved, to take the lead, Douglas said.

Commissioner Levie Maddox weighed in with an e-mail to the citizen. Now looking forward, the opportunity for elected officials for any type of advance of taxpayer dollars needs to be 100 percent eliminated, he wrote.

According to Maddox, the BOC recently asked the management team and legal to present options for a program that allows employees, with good standing, to have the option of structured cash advances that relate to documented hardships. Many organizations have EAPs, or Employee Assistance Programs. At no time was there a discussion about elected officials being eligible.

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Star Witness Grilled by McDonnell’s Defense Team About Gifts

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Aug. 1, 2014

The prosecutions star witness in the federal corruption trial against former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, has testified for two full days and will return to the witness stand again Monday morning.

Call logs show Jonnie Williams and Maureen McDonnell exchanged 1200 texts and phone calls. Williams told the jury 95% of those conversations were business discussion on his dietary-supplement companys newest product, Anatabloc. Defense attorneys for Maureen McDonnell claim she developed a crush on wealthy businessman, and the pair developed an inappropriate relationship. To support that theory, defense attorney, William Burck, showed jurors an email Maureen sent Williams in August of 2011, after an earthquake rocked Virginia.

I just felt the Earth move, and I wasnt having sex.

Williams chuckled on the witness stand, but said he didnt recall the email.

It lends weight to the defenses theory that there was no exchange by the governor or his administration to Mr. Williams of any favors in exchange for the money that Mr. Williams gave, Scott Goodman, a defense attorney in Charlottesville said. Rather it was an illicit relationship between the governors wife and Mr. Williams. Thats what this is all about, thats what all the gifts are for: Sex in exchange for gifts. So this is an alternative theory that the defense has presented which the jury might hand its head on.”

There were more than a few contentious moments in the courtroom Friday afternoon, as defense attorneys for Bob McDonnell began their cross-examination of Williams. Henry Asbill grilled Williams about his interviews with Virginia State Police and FBI agents and about possible SEC violations.

Asbill also questioned Williams about how much the former governor knew about the lavish gifts he gave the McDonnells. He listed all of the items Williams bought for Maureen during a New York City shopping spree in 2011. She received $20,000 in designer clothes, including an Oscar de la Renta gown, Louis Vuitton handbags and shoes, and a floor-lenth white leather coat. Williams acknowledged on the witness stand he never spoke with the governor about the gifts, and couldnt say for sure if he knew about them.

Evidence released to the public shows Bob McDonnell driving a Ferrari loaned to him by Williams, as well as Bob texting Williams a photo of himself wearing the Rolex that prosecutors say was a gift. Williams told the jury that Maureen had noticed his Rolex watch and said, Id really like to get one of those for the governor. Williams said he agreed, and purchased one for $6,000 or $7,000. He said engraving Robert McDonnell 71st Governor of Virginia on the watch was Maureens idea. Williams testified that Bob may not have known the Rolex was purchased by him.

In May of 2012, Bob McDonnell misspells Williams first name in a text referencing a cash loan.

Johnnie. Per voicemail would like to see if you could extend another 20k loan for this year. Call if possible and Ill ask mike to send instructions. Thx bob

Leaving the federal courthouse Friday evening, Bob McDonnell told reporters, I look forward to the truth coming out and I look forward to next week. McDonnell is expected to testify in his own defense.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell are charged in a 14-count federal indictment with taking more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for promoting his companys products.

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3 Situations Where You Shouldn’t Use Your Credit Card

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Obviously, the best solution would be to avoid needing the cash advance in the first place by maintaining adequate savings and reducing spending. But sometimes, tough times make neither of these possible. In these situations, its best to consider alternatives including loans from family and friends, as well as from small community banks and credit unions.

One of the few times a cash advance from a credit card would be the best option is when a loan from a payday lender is the only alternative. Although credit card interest rates currently average around 15%, payday lenders can easily charge 10 times that amount.

Certain foreign transactions
When youre within your home country, you dont need to worry for the most part about exchange rates and foreign transaction fees. But traveling to another country is a whole new story.

Many cards charge a foreign transaction fee when used outside their home country, with fees often being 2% to 3% of the purchase. When it comes to major purchases such as hotels and rental cars, this fee can really add up.

Beyond the foreign transaction fee, consumers need to look for the exchange rate the card will be using. Websites such as quote live market rates and can be used for general estimating, but credit card companies have their own rates, which could make a purchase a little more expensive.

Before traveling to another country, its best to find out which credit cards offer the best exchange rate without a foreign transaction fee.

The bottom line
Credit cards are useful tools for convenience and rewards, but using them in certain situations can cost you a lot more than you could ever get from their rewards. Its always best to make sure you have the means to pay off a credit card before charging a purchase to it, so as to avoid falling into a cycle of credit card debt.

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Mobile App Allows You To Get Your Cash Before Payday

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Forget about loan sharks when you need money before payday.

Ram Palaniappan has introduced a new approach that could help employees with their money problems.

Palaniappan said the reason behind the culture of borrowing money is the concept of payday itself. He believes that workers do not need to wait too long for them to get the money they worked hard for. This issue pushed Palaniappan to develop ActiveHours. This has recently raised about $4.1 million. This mobile app allows workers to access their hard-earned money without having to wait for the standard pay cycle.

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The best thing about the app is that one can get it for free. Basically, the app developer earns on giving money tips, and requesting users to send payment in return.

Employees can easily sign up to use ActiveHours. They just need to provide their bank account details. This mobile app has a system that allows it to verify the timesheet provided by the worker as well as the hours logged.

ActiveHours has a geolocation feature to check if the user is really at work when the photo of the timesheet was taken. If the logged sheets are approved, the user can check how much he/she has earned, and a percentage of the amount can be deposited to the users bank account. It essentially allows workers to avail of cash advance. The amount can be credited after 24 hours.

Despite the benefits of the mobile app, many experts end up not convinced with it. Adair Morse, assistant professor at the UN Berkeleys School of Business, said the app is prone to abuse. He added that by payday, the money may be already gone giving the user without any amount to rely on.

According to Palaniappan, however, no case of abuse has been reported so far.

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Response mounts to proposed cash advance for schools

Friday, August 29th, 2014

City stakeholders and statewide legislators are telling Gov. Tom Corbett that his plan to advance $264 million to the beleaguered School District of Philadelphia will do little to help the schools open on time or balance its budget.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz said the advance payment only places “another bandage” over a very deep wound.

“[This advance] doesn’t allow the School District of Philadelphia to properly budget and prepare a financial plan. If the district moves forward with more staff reductions, it will not be able to recall those employees once the layoffs begin,” Butkovitz said, echoing comments the controller made in a recent letter sent to Corbett. “As the city of Philadelphia’s fiscal watchdog, my office monitors the millions of dollars in locally generated tax revenues the city provides to the district. These are funds that support essential educational needs for students.”

Butkovitz said the city provided to the district roughly $910 million in tax revenues over the past year. That represents a year-over-year increase of $132 million — 17 percent — and shows the city is serious about keeping its end of the commitment to educate Philadelphia’s public school students.

“Philadelphia has been doing its part; it’s time the state steps up and allows the City to provide a quality education for all children,” Butkovitz said. “Leaders in Harrisburg have been insensitive toward our children’s futures for too long — enough is enough.

“How much longer must we wait for responsible leaders to take action and establish a deadline for this proposal to become law? This is a crisis that needs to be treated like a crisis.”

Corbett’s announcement this week of advancing money already earmarked for city schools carried the veneer of a last-minute rescue for the district, but State Rep. Michelle Brownlee, the vice co-chair of the Philadelphia Delegation to the House, said such a funding advance does not address the deep-rooted funding issues that have risen to epidemic levels.

“Philadelphia has done its part, and despite the governor’s announcement this morning, it’s still past time for the administration and the state to do its fair share,” Brownlee said, adding that School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William Hite has said that without the $80 million generated by the cigarette tax, the district will be forced to lay off an additional 1,300 teachers and support staff, the average class size will increase to 41 students and schools might not open in September. “A piecemeal, fund-by-emergency approach will not get Philly schools where they need to be this year, let alone for years to come. I’m prepared to go to Harrisburg and vote on measures that truly ensure continued prosperity for the city, and I’m looking to Republican leadership to do the same.”

Aside from fronting the millions to the district, Brownlee suggested Corbett should do more to encourage leadership in his own party to help pass not only the authorization for a cigarette tax in Philadelphia, but real reform — including a basic education funding formula — to dedicate future revenue based on districts’ unique needs and not just enrollment numbers.

The $2-per-pack cigarette tax, once authorized, would deliver to the district an estimated $90 annually in fresh funds; that legislation has stalled in the House, where Republican leadership cancelled a hearing scheduled for earlier this week that had the potential to enact the cigarette tax.

House leadership has made no indication that they will call a special meeting to consider authorizing legislation House Bill 1177 before the House is scheduled to return September 15.

“Taxpaying members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have done their part by shouldering the brunt of these cutbacks in jobs and in stepping in to fill the holes left from program cutbacks — including maximum class sizes of 30 students in elementary schools and 33 students in secondary schools,” Brownlee said.

Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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McDonnell Trial: Former Virginia Governor Says CEO’s Loans Were Not …

Friday, August 29th, 2014

No, I did not,McDonnell said.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors spent three weeks painstakingly laying out their case, alleging that when Williams lavished the McDonnells with gifts and loans, his company got a boost from the governors influence.

But the jurors heard a much different interpretation on Friday from the former governor, who maintains he didnt do anything official for Williams. Over and over again, McDonnell testified that he didnt consider the gifts or loans he knew came from Williams to be inappropriate.

McDonnell said he personally negotiated two of the three loans from the businessman: a $50,000 loan in March 2012 and a $20,000 loan in May of that year. Both checks came out of Williams Starwood Trust account and were written to MoBo Realty, a small real estate company the governor operated with his sister.

The company was facing an operating loss. McDonnell testified they decided to turn to personal loans rather than bank loans to deal with it.

McDonnells lawyer asked, Did you feel it was inappropriate to take a loan from Mr. Williams for MoBo?

McDonnell replied simply: No.

Prosecutors allege that McDonnell tried to hide the loans, never disclosing them on the Statement of Economic Interest form he must file each year.

McDonnell responded, They were corporate liabilities. On the Statement of Economic Interest, I always understood it to be personal liabilities.

The open question: whether the jury believes McDonnells explanation.

Political analyst Robert Holsworth said of the jurors, Do they think this is a reasonable way of operating your finances or do they think Bob McDonnell was trying to find some way to utilize Jonnie Williams to make up for poor financial decisions he and his sister made?

The former governor also had an explanation for an event that looked very incriminating in the prosecutions case.

The very night he drove Williams Ferrari back from vacationing at Williams lake home, McDonnell sent an email to his health secretary, asking that a top aide be at the mansion the next morning for a meeting with Williams and the first lady of Virginia on research of Anatabloc, a supplement made by Williams company.

But McDonnell testimony suggests it wasnt payback — he said when he heard about the meeting that night, he wanted a health expert there to monitor it.

No one asked me to do this, McDonnell testified. It was my decision.

He also testified that he took the second loan from Williams because it was offered. McDonnell said Williams had told him that if he needed more money, he should just ask.

McDonnell said he did so when he found out that two vacation rental homes he owned with his sister, through their company MoBo Realty, were still operating in the red.

McDonnell said that he and his sister, Maureen C. McDonnell, decided to seek a $50,000 loan to cover the 2012 operating costs of their real estate companys Virginia Beach properties because they had put in their own money in 2011 and were concerned about the sisters credit report due to her husbands finances, the former governor testified.

He said he had about $67,000 in cash and $200,000 in credit that could have covered the operating costs.

McDonnell learned in late January 2012 that Williams was willing to loan the money and discussed with Williams in early February about what he thought would be a $50,000 cash loan.

But then Williams began discussing a stock loan McDonnell could use as collateral for cash. McDonnell said he would have to confirm he would be able to do that.

All I wanted was operating cash; I wasnt interested in in the stock, McDonnell testified.

Williams and McDonnell had a short meeting on Feb. 29, 2012 in the governors conference room. After that, McDonnell said he was still waiting for confirmation that a margin loan would work, and he thought negotiations were still underway when Williams sent a $50,000 check to his sister Maureen March 6.

In May 2012, in need of another $20,000 in operating cash, MoBo sought another loan from Williams because he had repeatedly made it clear that was possible, and McDonnell and his sister stuck to their decision that 2011 would be a loan year, the former governor testified.

Let me know if Va. Beach needs cash, read one April 2012 text from Williams.

McDonnell testified he did not report the loan because it was corporate, not personal.

I did not think that a MoBo, LLC loan needed to be reported, he said.

McDonnell did acknowledge that he should have disclosed golf outings with Williams.

Those probably should have been recorded, he admitted.

But the former governor said that a $15,000 wedding gift was not included on his 2011 Statement of Economic Interest form because he believed it was intended for his daughter, not himself.

It was very clear to me that it was a wedding gift to Cailin, he said.

McDonnell also had an explanation for the prosecutions evidence that showed he amended loan documents after first learning of the corruption investigation. He said the first couple had already decided to refinance, and that he noticed that the applications had errors.

Then his wife was interviewed by state police — an interview that McDonnell said the couple thought was related to the investigation of a chef stealing food from the mansion.

Instead, it was about Jonnie Williams.

I was darn angry, McDonnell said, believing state police misrepresented the interview.

Two days later, McDonnell said, he completed the refinance application, filling in the blank information and adding more that he previously believed wasnt necessary, including the retirement accounts, Star Scientific stock and Starwood Trust loans.

I didnt personally think the Starwood loan needed to be included, but after what happened that week, I figured it was better to include anything related to Mr. Williams, just to be safe, McDonnell testified.

McDonnell first took the stand late Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the former governor dropped just the latest bombshell in the case when he revealed that he and his wife, Maureen, are living separately and that he has moved into the rectory of a Richmond church.

McDonnell said he moved out of his home with Maureen the week before the trial started.

I knew that there was no way I could go home after a day in court… and revisit things every night with Maureen, the former governor said during an often emotional day of testimony that began with an examination of his marriage, which he said is basically on hold.

Maureen McDonnells lawyer is expected to question Bob McDonnell when trial resumes next week.

McDonnell has testified that as his political career advanced, his relationship with his wife became increasingly strained. Maureen McDonnell grew uncomfortable being in the public spotlight, the former governor testified.

I got to the point that I just couldnt come home to that, he said.

But McDonald testified that while he believes his wife had an emotional attachment to former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams, she never had a physical relationship with him.

Defense attorneys have suggested that the McDonnells could not have conspired because their marriage was crumbling and they were barely talking.

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Payday lenders burying Iowans under pile of debt

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Brian Curtis took out his first payday loan when he was 19. It took more than a decade before he got out from under it and the climbing interest payments that followed.

Its a trap, he said.

Curtis, 37, living in Davenport, said he had roughly $5,000 in payday loan debt after taking out loans for a $1,500 car repair while living in Florida, and then again when he moved to Missouri and needed a deposit for an apartment.

Add to that more than $22,000 in interest that accrued and he said he faced a bill topping $27,000.

Who has $27,250 just laying around? Because if you had it just laying around you would never have been in the payday loan store in the first place, Curtis said.

Payday loan companies provide small-dollar, short-term loans that dodge state usury laws, allowing payday lenders to charge annualized interest rates as high as 400 percent.

Yet, repeated attempts to place stricter regulations on the industry have failed to garner interest from state legislators, despite support from the Iowa attorney generals office.

Leadership on both sides of the aisle will not let these bills move forward for debate, said Matthew Covington, a community organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and part of efforts to convince the Legislature to enact tougher regulation of the payday loan industry.

RELATED: Industry pours in campaign contributions | Lobbying by payday lenders

These loans affect thousands of Iowans every year. At the end of 2012, Iowa had 209 payday loan storefronts, which made over 950,000 loans that year and had combined annual net earnings of nearly $5 million, according to the Iowa Division of Banking.

Many borrowers — often low-income earners or those with poor credit histories — turn to payday lenders despite the high cost because payday loans are viewed as more accessible than traditional bank loans. Plus, they can obtain the loans quickly.

The business model is locking people into this cycle of debt. Most consumers think How could we allow that? But we do, said Sen Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City.

Since 2001, Bolkcom, majority whip and chair of the Ways and Means Committee, has introduced multiple bills proposing increased regulation of the industry, including interest rate caps, reducing fees and a requirement that payday lenders provide repeat borrowers with information on debt management. Each time, the bills failed to gain traction, despite Bolkcoms position as a leading member of the majority party.

A similar bill in the House mandating an option to pay off payday loans in installments was introduced in 2013 and passed through a subcommittee in February, but then languished.

Supporters of the payday loan industry, including the founders and owners of several payday loan companies, have voiced their opposition to new regulations, contributing money to political campaigns and hiring lobbyists to voice their concerns.

Campaign contributions to Iowa legislators from payday loan-associated donors totaled over $480,000 between 2003 and 2013, according to Iowa Ethics and Campaign Board data collected by IowaWatch. An additional $800,000 has flowed into the state as payday loan companies and interest groups contract lobbyists to speak in favor of the industry in the Iowa Statehouse.

Iowa legislators denied the contributions have had an influence.

Contributions may not buy votes, but experts say they can buy access to legislators, which can impact the agenda and give industry leaders a heads-up to legislation coming down the pike.

If I call up a state legislator Im going to talk with their legislative assistant or their secretary because I have not given this large amount of money, Hans Hassell, an assistant professor of politics at Cornell College, said. But the executive of a corporation or a company that has given a fair amount of money to these campaigns, they are more likely to have direct access to the politician themselves, he said.

With state legislation stalling, some cities have taken action. Over the past four years, 10 Iowa cities passed ordinances restricting locations for new payday loans stores. But cities cant control interest rates.

Waterloo City Council member Pat Morrissey, who spearheaded Waterloos recent ordinance, said he hoped action at the municipal level could spur the state action.

Just the concept of payday loans is atrocious. Its usury and takes advantage of people who can least afford it and puts them in a cycle of debt, Morrissey said.

Repeat borrowers dig deep debt hole

This cycle of debt is linked to repeated use, through which borrowers who cant pay off a loan when it comes due end up in a cycle of reborrowing. With each additional loan, borrowers pay a fee. Added together, these fees can exceed the amount of the original loan and customers can remain in debt for months.

Surveys and studies reviewed in a seven-month-long IowaWatch investigation say heavy repeat usage suggests customers rely on the loans to cover chronic shortages, despite warnings from consumer advocates that the loans are only meant for short-term use.

Payday lenders also warn customers against repeat use, but the warnings often are buried under positive messages portraying the loans as quick and easy.

One mailing sent in May by Advance America Cash Advance, a national payday lender with 26 storefronts in Iowa, announced: Whenever you need money, well get it to you quickly, easily and with respect. Small print at the bottom warned potential customers short-term loans are not intended to be long-term financial solutions. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling.

A survey by the Iowa Division of Banking shows roughly more than half of customers at Iowas payday loan stores took out 12 or more loans in a year. An additional 32 percent took out 15 or more loans.

That survey also shows the average payday loans interest rate in 2013, measured as an annualized percentage rate (APR), was 268 percent. In 2009 the average rate reached a peak of 296 percent APR.

While payday loan businesses are required to post interest using an annualized percentage rate, the businesses often provide additional ways of measuring interest rates that portray the loans more favorably.

Randy Johnson, compliance examiner at the Iowa Division of Banking, said using an annualized percentage rate is the only way to compare apples to apples in order to give consumers an accurate picture of different loan options.

Jamie Fulmer, senior vice president of public affairs at Advance America Cash Advance said the company follows regulations, clearly posting APR rates in its stores.

A study by Pew Charitable Trusts showed borrowers took an average of five months to pay off their loans, accumulating an average of $520 in interest. The study pointed to the system of fees associated with payday loans as encouraging repeat borrowing.

Fulmer referred to a more positive study conducted by Harris Interactive, saying the vast majority of customers were satisfied with payday services and understood the terms and costs of the loans.

Despite the dangers of repeat borrowing, the loans are still in demand.

For Curtis, reborrowing his loans meant becoming mired in debt.

The first two times Curtis went in to pay off his loans, he was able to pay only the interest, $25 each time. But by the third visit, he needed to come up with the full payment. Curtis had a full-time job, but living expenses ate up most of his wages.

Then you just go ahead and reborrow it because you didnt have the $445 to start with. So youre just stuck, he said.

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GasLog’s (GLOG) CEO Paul Wogan On Q2 2014 Results – Earnings Call …

Thursday, August 28th, 2014


Good morning. My name is Mary and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to GasLog Ltd. Second Quarter 2014 Results Conference Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded.

Todays speakers are Paul Wogan, Chief Executive Officer; Simon Crowe, Chief Financial Officer; and to commence the call, Jamie Buckland, Head of Investor Relations at GasLog.

Mr. Buckland, you may begin with the conference.

Jamie Buckland

Thank you, Mary. Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us for our second quarter results call. As a reminder, this call webcast and presentation are available on the Investor Relations section of our website,, where a replay will also be available.

As shown on page 2 of the presentation, many of our remarks contain forward-looking statements. Let me refer you to our Q2 results press release and our reports filed with the SEC where youll find factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements.

In addition, some of our remarks this afternoon contain non-GAAP financial measures as defined by the SEC, and a reconciliation of these is attached as an annex to the presentation.

If we now turn to slide 3, the highlights for the presentation, Ill hand over to Paul Wogan, GasLog Ltd.s Chief Executive.

Paul Wogan

Thank you, Jamie. Good afternoon and good morning to all of you in the United States. Thank you to everyone for joining us on our Q2 results call. On todays call, I will give you an overview of GasLogs highlights and performance this quarter. Simon will follow this with a review of the financial results and give an update on the MLP, which we launched during the quarter. I will then discuss the trends in the LNG shipping market and give an overview of our expanding fleet and some charter information.

So, first of all, Im very pleased with our achievements in the three months to 30 June, 2014. As you can see from this slide, weve executed on a number of important initiatives. We successfully launched the MLP, which has performed well since the IPO and will provide capital to continue to grow the business.

We added seven new vessels to our on-the-water fleet, almost doubling the number of ships we have at sea to 15. In the capital markets, we completed a second equity offering and a tap of our NOK bond, and were delighted with the results of both of these financings.

We placed a total of four newbuilding orders at Samsung and Hyundai which will deliver into attractive markets in 2017. In addition, we also continued to build and strengthen the management team. In combination, all these initiatives have significantly strengthened the operational, financial and commercial platform of GasLog. I mean were well placed to continue to take advantage of the ongoing opportunities in the LNG market.

We now have a total consolidated fleet of 25 vessels and we look forward to continuing this fleet growth with attractive opportunities in the coming years.

Simon will discuss the financials in more detail, but in summary, we grew our revenue and EBITDA significantly in the period reflecting the growth in the fleet. Adjusted profit and adjusted EPS were both higher year-on-year. Were also very pleased to announce a dividend of $0.12 for the quarter.

So if you now turn to slide 4, Ill hand you over to Simon to take you through the financials.

Simon Crowe

Thank you, Paul. Good morning and good afternoon to everyone, and thank you for joining us. Its been another busy quarter for GasLog and I am very satisfied with what weve achieved. Alongside the significant growth in the business weve seen in the quarter, we have further broadened our access to the capital markets to give us additional financial flexibility.

Expanding our finance platform is extremely important for GasLog and will allow this strong growth to continue into the future. In the quarter, we were able to facilitate multiple ship deliveries funded by debt and equity, as well as successfully IPO-ing the GasLog Partners MLP.

For me, as the CFO, one of the most pleasing things is the positive response GasLog has had from the capital markets as a whole. Our second equity raise was done at a 4.6% discount to the previous nights close, and the second NOK bond issue achieved a fixed dollar coupon of 5.99%, which shows the growing strength of the GasLog credit.

The MLP gives us further access to the capital markets and the recent newbuilding orders at Samsung and Hyundai already evidence of how we will look to recycle capital from the MLP at the parent to grow the business in the future.

I will now take you through the financial highlights for the quarter, talk about the recent announcements and provide some guidance for 2014 as a whole.

We produced another solid quarter in line with our plans and remain on track for the full year. Revenue and EBITDA for the quarter increased significantly year-on-year due to the rollout of the fleet over the period.

Weve added seven ships to our on-the-water fleet this quarter with three of the BG vessels delivering in early April and three staggered through June in addition to the newbuilding at Solaris delivering on the last day of the quarter.

Net financials for the quarter of $27 million can be broken into $18 million of financial costs and $9 million of impact from our swap portfolio. As you know, weve hedged a large part of our interest rate exposure, and from an economic perspective, this gives us certainty around our interest costs and mitigates cash flow volatility. However, the accounting is complicated, and thus, cause fluctuations in the Pamp;L.

Notes 10 and 11 in todays published financial statements outline the accounting treatment in some detail. The financial costs for the quarter include some one-off non-cash loan arrangement fee write-offs which arose when we dropped the three vessels down into the MLP and paid down some of the debt associated with the GasLog Sydney. These write-offs are non-cash in nature and only occur if we refinance debt or pay it down early to de-lever the balance sheet as you saw us do with the vessels in the MLP.

Please now turn to slide 5 of the presentation. You can see by the increases across all metrics that we continue to grow significantly year-on-year. EBITDA has more than doubled year-on-year and the average number of ships we had in the quarter has increased as we added the six vessels acquired from BG as well as the Solaris.

Please now turn to slide 6 of the presentation. Fixed assets have increased materially with the seven new vessels I just talked about added in the period. At the end of the quarter, we had $242 million of cash in the bank, which is a significant increase from the end of the year. This largely reflects the proceeds from the MLP at GasLog Limited and GasLog Partners as well as the NOK bond tap issue.

If we turn over to slide 7 of the presentation, Id like to draw your attention to the non-controlling interest line of $188 million. This represents the net proceeds from the MLP IPO of $186 million plus the $2 million of profit for the period earned by the 10 million units that we sold to the public. The other key change is the increase in long-term borrowings to $1.8 billion and that reflects the addition of the BG vessels acquired in the quarter, the second bond issue, and the drawing down on the debt for the Solaris.

Please now turn to slide 8 of the presentation where we have shown our projected CapEx out until 2017. We often get asked for this detail and you can see on the slide the changes year-on-year. You can clearly see along with some stage payments for future deliveries, the delivery of GAS-nine at the end of 2014 and GAS-ten in 2015. 2016 and 2017 show the newbuild deliveries being added to the fleet.

Please now turn to slide 9 of the presentation. We have, as usual, laid out the contractual revenue going forward. You can see that for the remainder of 2014 were almost fully contracted. The unfixed days is related to the GasLog Chelsea, which is on a seven month charter that began in May this year and could come off of contract in December. As you can see in the bullet, we also expect one of the BG ships that we recently acquired, the Methane Lydon Volney, to go into drydock in the third quarter which will result in about 30 days of lost revenue and you should update your models to take account of this.

The scheduled drydock was brought forward at the request of the customer to fit into their commercial schedule for this year and next. We remain largely fixed in 2015, lsquo;16, lsquo;17 and lsquo;18 and you should remember that these percentages do not include any of the optional periods that the charterers can use to further increase the length of the contract.

Please turn now to slide 10, the full-year update. It was another very busy quarter so we wanted to spend a little bit of time just going over some of the assumptions and how you should think about the remainder of the year.

Revenue should be fairly straight forward to model. If you take the first half revenue number of $130 million and add to that the $192 million figure shown in the contracted revenue table and add in a couple of million dollars for the managed vessel revenue, youd get to around $320 million, which should be a reasonable assumption for the full year. This revenue number may be subject to some slight fluctuations depending on the timing of scheduled maintenance.

On the cost side, we had an EBITDA margin of approximately 65% in 2013 which again should be a good working assumption for the full-year 2014.

On Gamp;A, we reported $8 million for the quarter and a total of $14 million for the first six months of the year. Weve been building GasLog into a business that can be scaled up materially in the future for a much larger fleet from the one we have today. as a result, we have recently strengthened our financial, operational and commercial abilities and are preparing to open a London and New York office which will bring us closer to our customers, investors and finance providers. These initiatives will better position us to take advantage of the LNG shipping markets and we would expect economies of scale as we continue to add more vessels to the GasLog fleet over time.

Going forward, I would model in $9 million to $10 million per quarter for 2014 as we take account of some of the one-off new office setup costs in the second half.

As highlighted last quarter, depreciation for the year should total around $70 million and this takes into account the BG ship deliveries in April and June. As a reminder, newbuilds have a useful life of 35 years and the purchased BG ships have a remaining useful life of 27 and 28 years as they were built in 2006 and 2007.

For finance costs, you should continue to see an all-in interest rate of around 4.5% on our debt. For this quarter and for all quarters going forward, we will have a payments to minorities line, which reflects the non-GasLog owned units in the MLP. This is calculated by taking the number of units not held by GasLog and multiplying by the distribution for the quarter. So for this quarter, the pro rata payout of $0.206 is multiplied by 10 million units to get about $2 million in payments to minorities.

For the minimal quarterly distribution of $0.375, the payment would be $3.75 million. This would change as the result of the recent drop-down announcement. So your model should be adjusted once the proposed increase in distribution is confirmed.

And finally, at GasLog parent, we now have a fully issued share capital of 81 million shares outstanding.

If we now turn over to slide 11, I thought it would be useful just to spend a minute talking about how we account for the MLP and talk through some of the changes you will need to make to your models and numbers going forward.

GasLog Ltd. owns 10 million LP units, or 49.8% of the total units, plus 400,000 General Partner units, which equates to an additional 2%. The public and insiders own 48.2%. At present, GasLog Partners is fully consolidated into the GasLog Ltd. accounts so there are minimal changes to our financial statements. The one adjustment you do need to make though is in the Pamp;L for the payments to minorities as already discussed.

In Q2 2014 adjusted EPS has been calculated before payments to minorities to give a like-for-like comparative for the first quarter. Going forward, we expect to report adjusted EPS after payments to minorities, so you should adjust your numbers and your models to reflect this.

Id like to finish up by spending a minute on the joint announcement that the GasLog Ltd. and GasLog Partners made last Thursday. GasLog Ltd. has agreed to sell two vessels to GasLog Partners for $328 million. This transaction is a milestone for both companies as it marks the first drop-down from the parent to the MLP.

For GasLog Ltd., the transaction is particularly attractive but it results in a significant increase in the quarterly distribution and should mean we are into the first incentive distribution threshold.

So in summary, for me, its been another very busy and successful quarter with significant growth through acquisition and newbuildings. We have again been active in the capital markets with successful equity and bond raises, as well as the launch of the GasLog Partners MLP.

And with that, Ill hand back to Paul to take you through the rest of the presentation.

Paul Wogan

Thank you, Simon. Please turn to slide 12, the market update. With so many things happening, I think its worth taking a step back to review GasLogs overall commercial strategy which has been based on being a long-term contracted owner with strong counterparties such as BG, Shell, and Exxon, and as we look to continue to grow the pipeline of business for the MLP, you will see this remain a significant part of our business for the foreseeable future.

However, as we continue to be confident about the long-term outlook for the LNG industry and LNG shipping, we also like our limited exposure to the shorter-term market. It gives us increased access to new customers and over time will give us exposure to a rising interest rate environment — rising rate environment.

There is no doubt that rates have been falling over the summer months as new ships have delivered into the fleet. However, weve seen a flurry of activity in recent months with over 50% more fixtures in the spot market year-to-date compared with the same period last year. In July alone, there were 16 spot fixtures versus five in July 2013. We believe this is demonstrating that the short-term market is growing and developing and will continue to do so and GasLog wants to play a part in that future market development.

We expect rates will rise over the next couple of years as new LNG production comes on stream and starts to create additional employment for the new ships being delivered.

And if you turn to slide 13, we highlight a number of interesting recent developments that underline our ongoing enthusiasm for the sector. In short, a number of existing new projects have either started production or are close to doing so whilst the number of planned projects have either received the necessary permit approvals and/or taken final investment decision, or FID.

For example, in the second quarter, the Exxon-led Papua New Guinea project commenced production ahead of schedule. The 6.9 million tons per annum project has a total requirement of about eight ships and is already operating at full capacity.

In the second half of the year, we expect the 4.5 million ton per annum Gassi Touil train in Algeria and the 4.3 million ton per annum BG Curtis train in Australia to commence production, both of which will require a number of additional ships. And this momentum carries over into next year as two of the big Australian projects, Gorgon and Gladstone, are scheduled to commence production, as well as a number of other smaller projects in Australia and Southeast Asia.

Whilst in the US, we feel that the streamlining of the regulatory approval process will be positive potentially accelerating the time-table for some of the near-term projects, in our supply and demand models, we presently assume five US projects will be built. Any further projects that are approved and take FID provide additional upside to our projections.

If I go into a bit more detail, in Q2, Cameron became the second US project after Sabine Pass to receive Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, approval, and this was followed by the project taking an FID in early August whilst after the end of the quarter, the Freeport project became the third project to receive FERC approval and is expected to take FID by the end of the year.

I think the strapline on this page is important and it backs up, I believe, that LNG and LNG shipping are set for significant growth in the years to come. There are presently 17 plants with approximately 115 million tons of new LNG production that are under construction. This equates to a 40% increase in LNG production over the next few years, but we will undoubtedly see new projects taking FID and so out to 2020 we expect a requirement of between 200 to 350 additional ships.

Please turn to slide 14, the fleet page. This slide keeps expanding quarter-on-quarter as we continue to grow the fleet. For this quarter, you can see the addition of four newbuildings which are scheduled to deliver in late 2017. We ordered these vessels without charters as we believe that the second half of 2017 and 2018 will be a very good time to have tonnage available. We will look to find multi-year employment for these vessels at attractive rates prior to their delivery.

Please now turn to the summary on slide 15. Its been another very busy quarter for GasLog. We launched the MLP and have subsequently announced the first drop-down. We believe the MLP will be a significant value driver for GasLog shareholders going forward.

We added seven vessels to our on-the-water fleet and ordered four newbuildings, bringing the total fleet size to 25 vessels, 2.5 times the size of the fleet that we set out with at the time of the IPO in the spring of 2012.

We continue to enhance our ability to finance the growth of the business in the quarter accessing both the bond and equity markets and launching the MLP. At GasLog, we will continue to look for attractive opportunities to grow our fleet and to place long-term contracts against our vessels which make them eligible for drop-down to the MLP, thus maintaining the partnerships visible growth pipeline.

The forecast expansion of the LNG industry combined with GasLogs experienced technical platform, proven track record of execution and willingness to drive consolidation in the market mean that we are confident that we will continue to see attractive growth opportunities that will benefit the shareholders of both GasLog Ltd. and GasLog Partners.

And that brings us to the end of the presentation. Operator, could you please open the call for questions?

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