Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Monday, May 19, 2014

Juncker in Athens to Meet Samaras

Jean-Claude Juncker, the conservative candidate for European Commission president, is in Athens Monday May 19 to attend a series of appointments. He already had lunch with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the Acropolis Museum and later on visited a metro station worksite. Later in the evening, Juncker, Luxembourg’s former prime minister, is scheduled to arrive at the offices of Frontex, the EU border agency, then at an event organized by the Greek political party New Democracy, where he will also make a speech. The conservative candidate for European Commission President spoke opposite SYRIZA’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, in last week’s pre-elections televised debate.


Greece house was just meant to be

Greece house was just meant to beRochester Democrat and Chronicle"I don't think the owners fully believed him, but it was a bold move," said Johnson, 65, of Greece. "By the time they knew what was going on, we were already inside the house. It was a whirlwind moment because we went into the house, looked at it for a ...


US Vice President Joe Biden to visit Cyprus on Wednesday

US Vice President Joe Biden is expected to arrive on the divided island of Cyprus on Wednesday, where he will meet with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and other representatives of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to discuss the progress of ... ...


Greek neo-Nazis hold position, aim for Europe

Less than a year ago, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had vowed to "eradicate" neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn as an investigation began into the party’s allegedly criminal activities. As results filtered in from Sunday’s first round of local elections, i... ...


Anastasiadis returns as PAOK manager

Cup finalist PAOK named Angelos Anastasiadis as coach after reaching a two-year deal on Monday. The 61-year-old former player and coach the northern Greek club returned to Thessaloniki after a 10-year absence, backed by the owner, Greek-Russian businessma... ...


European-wide safety feature for professional vehicles in Greece by 2018

All professional vehicles used to transport people or goods will have to be equipped with the European-wide eCall safety feature by the start of 2018, according to a new regulation. The system allows professional drivers to call for assistance on the 112 ... ...


Narcotics officers make their biggest-ever cannabis haul

The Greek police on Monday issued an announcement hailing the narcotics squad’s biggest cannabis bust ever after a 700 kilograms of the drug was found inside a concealed compartment in a truck that had entered Greece from Albania and is believed to have b... ...


Unwise protest vote could reintroduce the risk factor

The results of the first round of Greece’s municipal and regional elections held on Sunday showed that none of the political parties nor the candidates have real resonance with the people. In fact, people are still in a quandary. Meanwhile, the doomsayers... ...


Local filmmakers depict a Greece under a leaden sky

The latest wave of Greek movie output, which started to hit local screens in September 2013, continues this month with two dramas, “Wild Duck” by Yannis Sakaridis and “Standing Aside, Watching” by Yorgos Servetas. Both directors have opted for unusual gra... ...


Eco groups call for abolition of draft bill on coastal zoning

A joint statement issued on Monday by 11 environmental and other conservation groups called for a draft law relaxing the regulations governing the commercial use of coastal parts of Greece to be abolished rather than amended. The controversial bill, which... ...


Greece confirms World Cup squad

Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou kept his place in the country's World Cup squad on Monday despite three forwards being dropped from the preliminary lineup.


Mixed Success for Greek Celebrities Standing for Election

Greek ReporterMixed Success for Greek Celebrities Standing for ElectionGreek ReporterPsinakis_Gletsos The 2014 local elections across Greece are being contested by various Greek celebrities looking to secure the political spotlight. In many cases, their efforts have paid off with many celebrities being elected, or getting a second ...


From Greek Crisis, to Turnaround

Wall Street JournalFrom Greek Crisis, to TurnaroundWall Street JournalSince the onset of the crisis almost five years ago, the turn-around of the Greek economy has been remarkable. Last year the government booked a primary fiscal surplus of nearly 1% of GDP, after the primary balance swung from a deficit of 10.5% of GDP ...and more »


How to make feta cheese dishes for Greek Fest and entertaining: Exchange Alley

How to make feta cheese dishes for Greek Fest and entertaining: Exchange AlleyThe Times-PicayuneJust as we all become Irish for St. Patrick's Day, New Orleanians become honorary Greeks each Memorial Day. We trek to the banks of Bayou St. John, where the local Greek community puts on a festival like no other. This year, it's the 41st festival, May ...


University Administrative Staff Won’t Be Laid-Off

According to the Greek Ministry of Education, university administrative employees who were expecting to be laid-off in the near future, have now been given an additional eight month period to remain in their positions before it is decided whether they will be made redundant. However, several administrative employees from the University of Ioannina and the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) are going to lose their jobs on May 24. As of September 2013, their positions within the universities have been eliminated and no alternative work position has been found in order for them to escape being laid-off. The mobility scheme that was put to work on September 24, 2013 involved a total of 1,158 university administrative staff. This caused many strikes from employees who protested against the scheme and academics who wanted to support their cause, resulting in several universities losing their fall semester. The Greek Ministry of Education is now searching to clarify certain amendments that were passed last year. As a result of these amendments, the eight-month labor reserve period did not begin simultaneously for all employees. Administrative employees from the National Technical University of Athens and the University of Athens have been given an eight month period before the Ministry can decide whether their positions will become redundant.


Chalkidiki Pro-Mining Mayor Loses Ballot

An all-night vote count local elections in the Aristotelis municipality of Chalkidiki ended on Monday morning with Giannis Michos getting a slim majority over Christos Pachtas. A member of the Skouries Movement, Michos collected 8,031 votes with 51.79% over mayor Pachtas, who garnered 7,374 votes (46.95%). Giannis Trikaliotis won just 1.92% of the vote. Pachtas has been controversial in his support for the gold mining project in Skouries, with little regard for the environmental consequences and despite fierce local and political opposition. The newly elected mayor has promised to hold talks with the Greek government along with local officials, businessmen, experts, mining workers and other relevant bodies to find a just and viable solution to the mining issue and to promote development in the municipality. After the election result was declared, many residents of Skouries took to the streets, shouting slogans against the current mayor and the Greek government. Back in 2011, Vancouver-based mining company, Eldorado Gold Corporation, having acquired most of the old mining industry in Aristotelis, announced plans for a 1 billion euros gold mining project that would generate thousands of new jobs. The investment however, triggered mass protests in Skouries. Residents have been opposing it mainly for environmental reasons, claiming that the new project would further pollute the region and the required deforestation for the expansion of the facilities would completely destroy the natural habitat and the beauty of the region. Some of them also highlighted the dramatic impact of such a facility on the tourism industry of Chalkidiki. The project’s approval by the then Greek government sparked social and political turmoil and major clashes with the police and a “civil” war between the residents in favor and against the project. Numerous protesters were arrested and prosecuted and many were injured and tear-gassed by the riot police trying to stop the demonstrations.


2014 World Cup: Why Mitroglou Is Greece's Key to Reaching the Knockout Rounds

Perhaps no other team embodies the World Cup spirit of team unity than Greece. They proved it in 2004, when they lifted the European Championship trophy on the back of a strong defense and a disciplined core of players that moved together like a well oiled ...


In Ukraine, Religious Tensions Contribute To Worsening Political Divide, Russian Orthodox Official Says

(Reuters) - Religious tensions are deepening dividing lines in Ukraine's crisis, with rival churches taking political sides and Kiev slighting the Russian Orthodox Church, a senior official of the Moscow-based church said on Friday. Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian Church's foreign relations department, said other churches had clearly lined up behind the Kiev government and he cited religious differences for its decision to refuse him entry to Ukraine last week. Hilarion told Reuters his Church, which has broad support in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, did not take sides and wanted to play a mediating role in the crisis. But he doubted the others would see it as impartial. "This lack of sympathy, unfortunately, is mutual," he said in an interview at his office in Moscow's Danilov Monastery. The Russian church's critics certainly do not see it as neutral in the crisis. Its head, Patriarch Kirill, is close to President Vladimir Putin and has supported his drive to forge closer ties with former Soviet regions outside Russia. However, Hilarion said his Church had contacts in Ukraine that the Kremlin lacked, including between Patriarch Kirill and Ukraine's acting President Oleksander Turchinov. But he said the government did not appear interested in the offer of mediation. Kiev's sensitivity to the activities of Russian church leaders was clearly on display on May 9 when Hilarion was barred entry after flying into the city of Dnipropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine to give a local bishop an award on his 75th birthday. After being detained for more than two hours, Hilarion was told he could not pass the border control and had to give the waiting bishop his award at the airport. He described this as a political decision with religious overtones. "The people who are now running Ukraine do not belong to the Russian Orthodox Church," he said, noting that acting Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk is a Greek Catholic and that acting President Turchinov is a Baptist. HISTORIC DIVISIONS Ukraine has a chequered religious landscape. Alongside the Moscow-backed Ukrainian Orthodox Church are a breakaway Kiev-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church and another local Orthodox movement - both of them deemed schismatic by Moscow - and the Greek Catholic Church, which is linked to Rome. The Moscow-backed church is spread across Ukraine but strongest in the east, while the local Orthodox churches and the Greek Catholics are found more in the centre and west, where the Ukrainian language and national sentiment are stronger. Priests from the local Orthodox churches and especially the Greek Catholics, who follow Orthodox-style liturgies but are in communion with the Vatican, played a visible role, conducting prayers and masses, during the protests in Kiev that led to the ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich in February. Hilarion said Ukraine's crisis was not religious in nature, but added: "The situation with religious communities in Ukraine somewhat reflects the division within the Ukrainian nation". "The Greek Catholic Church and the schismatic groups (rival Orthodox churches) have clearly identified themselves with the current regime," he said. Greek Catholics "always go against the Russian Orthodox Church" and their ultimate goal is "to subordinate all Ukrainian churches to the pope", Hilarion added. Eastern Catholic churches such as the Ukrainian Greek Catholics emerged in the 16th century. The Orthodox have long accused them of trying to win over souls for Rome. Hilarion's Church issued a statement on Friday offering its services as a moderator in Ukraine's conflict, in response to a suggestion from Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn that religious communities play a part in seeking a solution. It echoed the tensions Hilarion mentioned, accusing other churches of exploiting "the sincere religious feelings of deeply pious Ukrainian people as a tool in a political struggle".


Fulham flop Mitroglou makes Greece's World Cup 23-man squad

talkSPORT.comFulham flop Mitroglou makes Greece's World Cup 23-man squadtalkSPORT.comKostas Mitroglou has kept his World Cup place after Greece cut their provisional 30-man squad to 23. The £11million striker has failed to fire since joining Fulham in January but scored three times over the two legs of the World Cup qualifying play-off ...


Greece: Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Strong Performance at Local Elections despite Crackdown

Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn recorded a strong performance at local elections over the weekend, despite a government crackdown on the party and the arrest of several high-profile politicians accused of criminal activities. Golden Dawn spokesman and ...


Golden Dawn's showing in elections worries Greek government

The Times of IsraelGolden Dawn's showing in elections worries Greek governmentJewish Telegraphic AgencyStrong showing for Golden Dawn in Greek local elections. May 19, 2014 6:10am. ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party received strong support in Greek local elections, despite a harsh government crackdown on the party. Golden Dawn ...Strong showing for Golden Dawn in Greek local electionsThe Times of IsraelGolden Dawn Election Showing Vexes GovernmentGreek Reporterall 7 news articles »


Greek Crisis Spikes Heart Attacks

Greece's economic crisis has been so stressful that it's precipitated a rise in cardiovascular disease, research presented the Heart Failure Congress 2014 here showed.

The post Greek Crisis Spikes Heart Attacks appeared first on The National Herald.



by  Associated Press WORLD SPORTS at 1330 GMT Associated Press - 19 May 2014 09:39-04:00



MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United has hired Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal as the club's new manager on a three-year contract. By Steve Douglas. SENT: 600 words, photos.



MADRID — Barcelona's unexpected demise was hardly that. How it abandoned the principles that founded its recent success is perhaps the greatest surprise. Barcelona abandoned its essence — possession-based play — while Lionel Messi?s ineffectiveness continues to trouble. By Paul Logothetis. UPCOMING: 500 words by 1400 GMT.


RIO DE JANEIRO — A top official at sailing's governing body says it may conduct independent water-quality tests in Rio de Janeiro's polluted Guanabara Bay, the sailing venue for the 2016 Olympics and the site of Rio's first test event in 2½ months. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 800 words, photos.


TEL AVIV, Israel — Jubilant Israeli basketball fans are still celebrating Maccabi Tel Aviv's dream season, which culminated with an overtime victory over Real Madrid in the Euroleague basketball final in Milan. By Aron Heller. SENT: 500 words, photos.


UNDATED — England great Jonny Wilkinson will retire from rugby at the end of the season, capping an illustrious 17-year career in which he kicked the winning drop-goal in the 2003 World Cup final to become one of his country's most treasured sportsmen. By Steve Douglas. SENT: 430 words.



SAO PAULO — FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke arrives in Brazil for the World Cup talking about "busy days ahead" to finalize the country's preparations. A day after Brazil held the last two test events at stadiums, Valcke said he will visit all 12 host cities again "to see that the finishing touches" are completed in time. By Tales Azzoni. UPCOMING: 500 words by 1700 GMT.


STANFORD, California — It's been 12 years since a U.S. forward scored in a World Cup. Brian McBride's goal against Mexico during a 2002 second-round match in South Korea helped the Americans advance to the quarterfinals in their best showing since 1930. As the Americans prepare for next month's tournament in Brazil, pressure for goals will be on Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. By Ronald Blum. SENT: 700 words, photos.


— VOULIAGMENI, Greece — BC-SOC--WCup-Greece Squad. SENT: 350 words, photos.

— KIEV, Ukraine — BC-SOC--Dynamo Kiev-Rebrov. SENT: 130 words.



BRISBANE, Australia — Jack Brabham, the three-time Formula One champion who famously pushed his car to the finish line to claim his first season title, died Monday at his Gold Coast home. He was 88. By Dennis Passa. SENT: 980 words, photos.



MINSK, Belarus — France needs a win over Denmark to secure a quarterfinal spot in Group A at the ice hockey world championship, while Latvia and Belarus will meet in a matchup for a quarterfinal place in Group B. Also, Finland faces a must win over Kazakhstan in Group B, while defending champion Sweden plays Italy in Group A. By Karel Janicek. UPCOMING: 400 words by 1700 GMT.



WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Cricket says it is "dismayed" that testimony given by Brendon McCullum to anti-corruption investigators has been leaked to a British newspaper and expressed total confidence in the test captain. SENT: 290 words.


— DHAKA, Bangladesh — BC-CRI--Bangladesh-New Coach. SENT: 130 words.

Other stories:

— TOKYO — BC-FIG--Asada-Future. By Jim Armstrong. SENT: 240 words, photos.

— ANAHEIM, California — BC-BBO--MLB Roundup. SENT: 500 words.

YOUR QUERIES: Questions and story requests are welcome. Contact your local AP bureau or the AP International Sports Desk in London by telephone at 44-207-427-4105 or email

News Topics: Cricket, Hockey, Water quality, Men's soccer, Sports, Water environment, Environment, Environment and nature, Men's sports, Soccer, Professional soccer

People, Places and Companies: Lionel Messi, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Jim Armstrong, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv, Israel, New Zealand, Belarus, Barcelona, Bangladesh, Ukraine, South America, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East, Oceania, Eastern Europe, Europe, Spain, Western Europe, South Asia, Asia

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A taste of things to come in EP Elections

by  NEOnline

The first preview of the European Election results came yesterday from Greece. One week before the elections for the European Parliament, Greeks voted in the first round of the local elections. And the results may very well serve as an indication on how Greece will vote on 25 May but also give some hints on how Europe in general will vote.

The Greek political landscape has been shaped during the last 3 years almost exclusively by EU/Euro zone policy as it affects Greeks. Greece being the first country to taste the tender care of the “Troika” of the EU, the ECB and the IMF, the one that started the crisis ball running. Local peculiarities notwithstanding (and filtered out), the reaction of the Greek society can thus provide meaningful indications as to the trends the European society is following, at least in the crisis affected countries.

What happened on Sunday, 18 May, in Greece is surprisingly unsurprising. The ruling parties that are accused both of being responsible of leading Greece into crisis and for bowing to the “Troika” didn't perform very well, they saw their influence and the percentages drop but not as dramatically as was expected. The main opposition party, the left-wing SYRIZA headed by the “Spitzenkandidat” of the European Left, Alexis Tsipras, didn't fare badly, actually increasing it's percentage. But it failed to produce the expected breakthrough, an increase so strong as to be “game changing”.

The only political party that has serious reasons to celebrate is the Far-Right “Golden Dawn”. Even with half it's MPs in jail accused of violent crimes, with the party not shy to show it's neo-nazi tendencies, it manage to gain double digit results, reaching 15-16%. This, for a party way beyond the usual eurosceptic, nationalistic and anti-immigrant tamer varieties of the far-right that Greece and Europe knew until recently.

If this trend continues until this coming Sunday, and there is no reason to believe that it won't, Greece will send to the European Parliament an important number of openly neo-nazi MEPs, a first for the Hemicycle.

Filtering out Greece's peculiarities, and taking into account differences in degree, a trend common to most EU member states is recognisable. Other states perhaps will not send neo-nazis at the EP. But most, especially the ones having directly enjoyed European solidarity, are expected to express their gratitude by voting for populists. Not to the degree that will shake the position of the largest establishment European parties, like the EPP and the S&D, but enough to erode their might


Angelos Anastasiadis returns as PAOK Thessaloniki coach after 10-year absence

by  Associated Press Anastasiadis returns as PAOK coach Associated Press - 19 May 2014 09:56-04:00

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Greek league runner-up PAOK Thessaloniki has named Angelos Anastasiadis as coach after reaching a two-year deal.

The 61-year-old former player and coach the northern Greek club returned to Thessaloniki after a 10-year absence, backed by the owner, Greek-Russian businessman Ivan Savvidis.

PAOK finished the league second behind Olympiakos, but lost a spot in the Champions League in the playoffs and lost the Greek Cup final to Panathinaikos.

Anastasiadis, who previously coached several other Greek clubs and the Cyprus national team, replaces Dutch coach Huub Stevens and caretaker Giorgos Giorgiadis at PAOK.

News Topics: Sports, Soccer, Men's soccer, Men's sports

People, Places and Companies: Huub Stevens, Thessaloniki, Greece, Western Europe, Europe

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


National Bank Of Greece Gets Upgrade As Climate Improves

NBG will benefit from its presence in the high-growth Turkish market, and its market price holds over 30% upside potential National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG) sports an improved capital position following its equity issuance and capital measures ...


The Birth of a Eurasian Century

Russia and China Do PipelineistanCross-posted with

HONG KONG -- A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass -- at the expense of the United States.

And no wonder Washington is anxious.  That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to NATO; inside the G20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain.  Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership.

This week should provide the first real fireworks in the celebration of a new Eurasian century-in-the-making when Russian President Vladimir Putin drops in on Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.  You remember “Pipelineistan,” all those crucial oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing Eurasia that make up the true circulatory system for the life of the region.  Now, it looks like the ultimate Pipelineistan deal, worth $1 trillion and 10 years in the making, will be inked as well.  In it, the giant, state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom will agree to supply the giant state-controlled China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 3.75 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas a day for no less than 30 years, starting in 2018. That’s the equivalent of a quarter of Russia’s massive gas exports to all of Europe. China’s current daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet a day, and imports account for 31.6% of total consumption.

Gazprom may still collect the bulk of its profits from Europe, but Asia could turn out to be its Everest. The company will use this mega-deal to boost investment in Eastern Siberia and the whole region will be reconfigured as a privileged gas hub for Japan and South Korea as well. If you want to know why no key country in Asia has been willing to “isolate” Russia in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis -- and in defiance of the Obama administration -- look no further than Pipelineistan.

Exit the Petrodollar, Enter the Gas-o-Yuan

And then, talking about anxiety in Washington, there’s the fate of the petrodollar to consider, or rather the “thermonuclear” possibility that Moscow and Beijing will agree on payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal not in petrodollars but in Chinese yuan. One can hardly imagine a more tectonic shift, with Pipelineistan intersecting with a growing Sino-Russian political-economic-energy partnership. Along with it goes the future possibility of a push, led again by China and Russia, toward a new international reserve currency -- actually a basket of currencies -- that would supersede the dollar (at least in the optimistic dreams of BRICS members).

Right after the potentially game-changing Sino-Russian summit comes a BRICS summit in Brazil in July. That’s when a $100 billion BRICS development bank, announced in 2012, will officially be born as a potential alternative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as a source of project financing for the developing world.

More BRICS cooperation meant to bypass the dollar is reflected in the “Gas-o-yuan,” as in natural gas bought and paid for in Chinese currency. Gazprom is even considering marketing bonds in yuan as part of the financial planning for its expansion. Yuan-backed bonds are already trading in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and most recently Frankfurt.

Nothing could be more sensible for the new Pipelineistan deal than to have it settled in yuan. Beijing would pay Gazprom in that currency (convertible into rubles); Gazprom would accumulate the yuan; and Russia would then buy myriad made-in-China goods and services in yuan convertible into rubles.

It’s common knowledge that banks in Hong Kong, from Standard Chartered to HSBC -- as well as others closely linked to China via trade deals -- have been diversifying into the yuan, which implies that it could become one of the de facto global reserve currencies even before it’s fully convertible. (Beijing is unofficially working for a fully convertible yuan by 2018.)

The Russia-China gas deal is inextricably tied up with the energy relationship between the European Union (EU) and Russia. After all, the bulk of Russia’s gross domestic product comes from oil and gas sales, as does much of its leverage in the Ukraine crisis. In turn, Germany depends on Russia for a hefty 30% of its natural gas supplies. Yet Washington’s geopolitical imperatives -- spiced up with Polish hysteria -- have meant pushing Brussels to find ways to “punish” Moscow in the future energy sphere (while not imperiling present day energy relationships).

There’s a consistent rumble in Brussels these days about the possible cancellation of the projected 16 billion euro South Stream pipeline, whose construction is to start in June.  On completion, it would pump yet more Russian natural gas to Europe -- in this case, underneath the Black Sea (bypassing Ukraine) to Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Austria.

Bulgaria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have already made it clear that they are firmly opposed to any cancellation.  And cancellation is probably not in the cards.  After all, the only obvious alternative is Caspian Sea gas from Azerbaijan, and that isn’t likely to happen unless the EU can suddenly muster the will and funds for a crash schedule to construct the fabled Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, conceived during the Clinton years expressly to bypass Russia and Iran.

In any case, Azerbaijan doesn’t have enough capacity to supply the levels of natural gas needed, and other actors like Kazakhstan, plagued with infrastructure problems, or unreliable Turkmenistan, which prefers to sell its gas to China, are already largely out of the picture. And don’t forget that South Stream, coupled with subsidiary energy projects, will create a lot of jobs and investment in many of the most economically devastated EU nations.

Nonetheless, such EU threats, however unrealistic, only serve to accelerate Russia’s increasing symbiosis with Asian markets. For Beijing especially, it’s a win-win situation. After all, between energy supplied across seas policed and controlled by the U.S. Navy and steady, stable land routes out of Siberia, it’s no contest.

Pick Your Own Silk Road

Of course, the U.S. dollar remains the top global reserve currency, involving 33% of global foreign exchange holdings at the end of 2013, according to the IMF. It was, however, at 55% in 2000. Nobody knows the percentage in yuan (and Beijing isn’t talking), but the IMF notes that reserves in “other currencies” in emerging markets have been up 400% since 2003.

The Fed is arguably monetizing 70% of the U.S. government debt in an attempt to keep interest rates from heading skywards. Pentagon adviser Jim Rickards, as well as every Hong Kong-based banker, tends to believe that the Fed is bust (though they won’t say it on the record). No one can even imagine the extent of the possible future deluge the U.S. dollar might experience amid a $1.4 trillion Mount Ararat of financial derivatives.  Don’t think that this is the death knell of Western capitalism, however, just the faltering of that reigning economic faith, neoliberalism, still the official ideology of the United States, the overwhelming majority of the European Union, and parts of Asia and South America.

As far as what might be called the “authoritarian neoliberalism” of the Middle Kingdom, what’s not to like at the moment? China has proven that there is a result-oriented alternative to the Western “democratic” capitalist model for nations aiming to be successful. It’s building not one, but myriad new Silk Roads, massive webs of high-speed railways, highways, pipelines, ports, and fiber optic networks across huge parts of Eurasia. These include a Southeast Asian road, a Central Asian road, an Indian Ocean “maritime highway” and even a high-speed rail line through Iran and Turkey reaching all the way to Germany.

In April, when President Xi Jinping visited the city of Duisburg on the Rhine River, with the largest inland harbor in the world and right in the heartland of Germany’s Ruhr steel industry, he made an audacious proposal: a new “economic Silk Road” should be built between China and Europe, on the basis of the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe railway, which already runs from China to Kazakhstan, then through Russia, Belarus, Poland, and finally Germany. That’s 15 days by train, 20 less than for cargo ships sailing from China’s eastern seaboard. Now that would represent the ultimate geopolitical earthquake in terms of integrating economic growth across Eurasia.

Keep in mind that, if no bubbles burst, China is about to become -- and remain -- the number one global economic power, a position it enjoyed for 18 of the past 20 centuries. But don’t tell London hagiographers; they still believe that U.S. hegemony will last, well, forever.

Take Me to Cold War 2.0

Despite recent serious financial struggles, the BRICS countries have been consciously working to become a counterforce to the original and -- having tossed Russia out in March -- once again Group of 7, or G7. They are eager to create a new global architecture to replace the one first imposed in the wake of World War II, and they see themselves as a potential challenge to the exceptionalist and unipolar world that Washington imagines for our future (with itself as the global robocop and NATO as its robo-police force). Historian and imperialist cheerleader Ian Morris, in his book War! What is it Good For?, defines the U.S. as the ultimate “globocop” and “the last best hope of Earth.” If that globocop “wearies of its role,” he writes, “there is no plan B.”     

Well, there is a plan BRICS -- or so the BRICS nations would like to think, at least. And when the BRICS do act in this spirit on the global stage, they quickly conjure up a curious mix of fear, hysteria, and pugnaciousness in the Washington establishment. Take Christopher Hill as an example. The former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and U.S. ambassador to Iraq is now an advisor with the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm deeply connected to the White House and the State Department. When Russia was down and out, Hill used to dream of a hegemonic American “new world order.”  Now that the ungrateful Russians have spurned what “the West has been offering” -- that is, “special status with NATO, a privileged relationship with the European Union, and partnership in international diplomatic endeavors” -- they are, in his view, busy trying to revive the Soviet empire. Translation: if you’re not our vassals, you’re against us.  Welcome to Cold War 2.0.   

The Pentagon has its own version of this directed not so much at Russia as at China, which, its think tank on future warfare claims, is already at war with Washington in a number of ways. So if it’s not apocalypse now, it’s Armageddon tomorrow. And it goes without saying that whatever’s going wrong, as the Obama administration very publicly “pivots” to Asia and the American media fills with talk about a revival of Cold War-era “containment policy” in the Pacific, it’s all China’s fault.

Embedded in the mad dash toward Cold War 2.0 are some ludicrous facts-on-the-ground: the U.S. government, with $17.5 trillion in national debt and counting, is contemplating a financial showdown with Russia, the largest global energy producer and a major nuclear power, just as it’s also promoting an economically unsustainable military encirclement of its largest creditor, China.

Russia runs a sizeable trade surplus. Humongous Chinese banks will have no trouble helping Russian banks out if Western funds dry up. In terms of inter-BRICS cooperation, few projects beat a $30 billion oil pipeline in the planning stages that will stretch from Russia to India via Northwest China. Chinese companies are already eagerly discussing the possibility of taking part in the creation of a transport corridor from Russia into Crimea, as well as an airport, shipyard, and liquid natural gas terminal there. And there’s another “thermonuclear” gambit in the making: the birth of a natural gas equivalent to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that would include Russia, Iran, and reportedly disgruntled U.S. ally Qatar.

The (unstated) BRICS long-term plan involves the creation of an alternative economic system featuring a basket of gold-backed currencies that would bypass the present America-centric global financial system. (No wonder Russia and China are amassing as much gold as they can.) The euro -- a sound currency backed by large liquid bond markets and huge gold reserves -- would be welcomed in as well.

It’s no secret in Hong Kong that the Bank of China has been using a parallel SWIFT network to conduct every kind of trade with Tehran, which is under a heavy U.S. sanctions regime. With Washington wielding Visa and Mastercard as weapons in a growing Cold War-style economic campaign against Russia, Moscow is about to implement an alternative payment and credit card system not controlled by Western finance. An even easier route would be to adopt the Chinese Union Pay system, whose operations have already overtaken American Express in global volume.   

I’m Just Pivoting With Myself

No amount of Obama administration “pivoting” to Asia to contain China (and threaten it with U.S. Navy control of the energy sea lanes to that country) is likely to push Beijing far from its Deng Xiaoping-inspired, self-described “peaceful development” strategy meant to turn it into a global powerhouse of trade.  Nor are the forward deployment of U.S. or NATO troops in Eastern Europe or other such Cold-War-ish acts likely to deter Moscow from a careful balancing act: ensuring that Russia’s sphere of influence in Ukraine remains strong without compromising trade and commercial, as well as political, ties with the European Union -- above all, with strategic partner Germany. This is Moscow’s Holy Grail; a free-trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok, which (not by accident) is mirrored in China’s dream of a new Silk Road to Germany.

Increasingly wary of Washington, Berlin for its part abhors the notion of Europe being caught in the grips of a Cold War 2.0. German leaders have more important fish to fry, including trying to stabilize a wobbly EU while warding off an economic collapse in southern and central Europe and the advance of ever more extreme rightwing parties.

On the other side of the Atlantic, President Obama and his top officials show every sign of becoming entangled in their own pivoting -- to Iran, to China, to Russia’s eastern borderlands, and (under the radar) to Africa. The irony of all these military-first maneuvers is that they are actually helping Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing build up their own strategic depth in Eurasia and elsewhere, as reflected in Syria, or crucially in ever more energy deals. They are also helping cement the growing strategic partnership between China and Iran. The unrelenting Ministry of Truth narrative out of Washington about all these developments now carefully ignores the fact that, without Moscow, the “West” would never have sat down to discuss a final nuclear deal with Iran or gotten a chemical disarmament agreement out of Damascus.

When the disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea and between that country and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyou islands meet the Ukraine crisis, the inevitable conclusion will be that both Russia and China consider their borderlands and sea lanes private property and aren’t going to take challenges quietly -- be it via NATO expansion, U.S. military encirclement, or missile shields. Neither Beijing nor Moscow is bent on the usual form of imperialist expansion, despite the version of events now being fed to Western publics.  Their “red lines” remain essentially defensive in nature, no matter the bluster sometimes involved in securing them.

Whatever Washington may want or fear or try to prevent, the facts on the ground suggest that, in the years ahead, Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran will only grow closer, slowly but surely creating a new geopolitical axis in Eurasia. Meanwhile, a discombobulated America seems to be aiding and abetting the deconstruction of its own unipolar world order, while offering the BRICS a genuine window of opportunity to try to change the rules of the game. 

Russia and China in Pivot Mode

In Washington’s think-tank land, the conviction that the Obama administration should be focused on replaying the Cold War via a new version of containment policy to “limit the development of Russia as a hegemonic power” has taken hold. The recipe: weaponize the neighbors from the Baltic states to Azerbaijan to “contain” Russia. Cold War 2.0 is on because, from the point of view of Washington’s elites, the first one never really left town.

Yet as much as the U.S. may fight the emergence of a multipolar, multi-powered world, economic facts on the ground regularly point to such developments.  The question remains: Will the decline of the hegemon be slow and reasonably dignified, or will the whole world be dragged down with it in what has been called “the Samson option”?

While we watch the spectacle unfold, with no end game in sight, keep in mind that a new force is growing in Eurasia, with the Sino-Russian strategic alliance threatening to dominate its heartland along with great stretches of its inner rim. Now, that’s a nightmare of Mackinderesque proportions from Washington’s point of view.  Think, for instance, of how Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser who became a mentor on global politics to President Obama, would see it.

In his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski argued that “the struggle for global primacy [would] continue to be played” on the Eurasian “chessboard,” of which “Ukraine was a geopolitical pivot.” “If Moscow regains control over Ukraine,” he wrote at the time, Russia would “automatically regain the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”

That remains most of the rationale behind the American imperial containment policy -- from Russia’s European “near abroad” to the South China Sea. Still, with no endgame in sight, keep your eye on Russia pivoting to Asia, China pivoting across the world, and the BRICS hard at work trying to bring about the new Eurasian Century.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT, and a TomDispatch regular. With a chapter on Iran, he is a contributing editor to The Global Obama: Crossroads of Leadership in the 21st Century. Follow him on Facebook.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story.


AstraZeneca shareholders "disappointed" as share price tumbles after Pfizer rejection

Big shareholder: Biggest example of value destruction ever

Jupiter: We'll make our disappointment known to Astra's board

Summary: Pfizer defeated, for now....

Why Pfizer can't raise its bid

3.00pm BST

As we predicted at 12.22pm, well-respected City investor Neil Woodford has offered AstraZeneca his backing, saying they were right to reject Pfizer's latest bid.

Woodford said the offer of £55 per share didn't match Astra's long-term potential - a point that the company's management have made repeatedly in recent weeks.

Neil Woodford fund manager with #AZN stake "#Pfizer long way short of something that'd persuade me to trade my belief in #AZNs LT potential"

2.54pm BST

Shares in Pfizer have risen over 1.6% in early trading in New York, as Wall Street traders react to the news that the company's third bid for AstraZeneca has been slapped down.

2.36pm BST

Conservative MP Douglas Carswell has criticised the way in which Pfizer's approach to AstraZeneca became a political football (two different parliamentary committees held hearings last week).

Carswell told Radio 4's The World At One that:

"Listening to the debate in Parliament, I'm very alarmed by the mood of protectionism, of what is, in effect, economic nativism. Countries that have governments that 'pick winners' become losers."

"I think it should disturb all of us that politicians, many of whom frankly couldn't run a bath, suddenly want us to believe that they know what is in the national interest and that they know what constitutes a good deal. It's absurd and it's ridiculous."

2.19pm BST

AstraZeneca's chairman has refused to say whether the board were united in rejecting Pfizer's latest approach.

Leif Johansson denied failing to handle the bid correctly, and added that he sees no prospect of a deal soon.

2.14pm BST

Speaking of elections, Greek politicians and citizens are digesting the results of the first round of local election voting, last weekend.

1.48pm BST

In the bond markets, Spanish and Italian government debt has weakened this morning as traders anticipate a strong showing for anti-establishment parties in this week's EU elections.

Alastair Winter, chief economist at Daniel Stewart & Co, says the elections could destabilise the EU, if parties who oppose the status quo are the big winners.

Here in the UK we face the strange prospect of the largest share of the vote going to a party of protest without practical policies and who do not always turn up to parliamentary sessions. More important will be how well the anti-EMU parties fare in France and Italy, which are quite likely to signal a new episode in the euro soap opera.

1.29pm BST

The Wall Street Journal agrees that Pfizer cannot boost its £55 offer again (as some analysts have been speculating this morning).

Here's how they see the state of play:

Pfizer has until May 26th to make a firm offer for AstraZeneca. But, given its statements on Sunday, it can now only do so with the recommendation of Astras board and at a price no more than £55 a share.

The certainty and speed of Astras rejection makes that highly unlikely. Moreover, UK rules prohibit Pfizer from making a bid for Astra for six months, unless recommended by the targets board. For the first three months, its no increase statement will still apply, meaning a deal would need to be agreed at £55 a share.

12.58pm BST

"I don't think this is the last roll of the dice" - Anne Richards, Chief Investment Officer, AAM believes Pfizer will return in 6 months.

12.57pm BST

AstraZeneca shareholder Aberdeen Asset Mgt also tell @ITVJoel Pfizer may be back for AstraZ in the future

12.57pm BST

Aberdeen Asset Mgt (who own 2.5% of AstraZ) tell @ITVJoel they have confidence in AZ board but want "fuller explanation" of rejection of bid

12.47pm BST

Another sign that investors reckon AstraZeneca has seen its US rival off -- shares in Pfizer are up over 2% in early pre-market trading in New York:

12.43pm BST

Business secretary Vince Cable has warned that the UK economy is being destabilised by booming house prices.

"It is a real, real, real worry" that some people are taking out mortgages many times larger than their salaries, Cable added, according to politics editor Patrick Wintour.

12.32pm BST

Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank, agrees that Pfizer is unlikely to make another bid for AstraZeneca, having been rebuffed three times*.

He told clients:

There is rarely a fourth attempt to dance in a takeover bid so based on the developments over the weekend, the probability for a deal is now very low.

Despite Pfizer having spent a large amount of money and time, the signal seems clear from AstraZeneca's Board of Directors, UK politicians and mainstream media that this is a bad deal, and we see limited efforts from Pfizer going forward. Its shareholders will not appreciate a fourth attempt as it will inflate the valuation too much relative to deal risk.

12.22pm BST

Back to AstraZeneca...

Leading fund manager Neil Woodford, whose biggest shareholding in his £4bn portfolio is AstraZeneca, is understood to be minded to reject Pfizer's latest offer.

12.21pm BST

There's no let-up in the changes at the Co-operative Group.

Its longest-standing director, Ben Reid, has just resigned, just days after the Co-op's AGM approved Lord Myners' proposals to reform the Group

The boss of the largest independent society, the Midcounties, Reid tendered his resignation on Monday morning following a tumultuous weekend when the members of the Group voted to reform the way the 150-year-old business is run.

Reid had sat on the board for 14 years and was one of the five representatives of independent societies to have boardroom seats as a result of their 22% share holding in the Group. Another 15 seats are currently held for representatives of the regional boards whose 8m members control 78% of the Group.

Co-op's longest-standing director resigns after reform vote

11.58am BST

David Cameron has now weighed in, saying that the government remains neutral over Pfizer's bid to buy AstraZeneca, and is still talking to both companies to get the best outcome for Britain.

"This is a matter for the companies to resolve themselves".

"The government quite rightly should be neutral in this. What we should do though is always be engaged with both companies - as we have been - to try and make sure that whatever the outcome, British science, British job, British manufacturing, that they get a proper and deserved attention."

David Cameron on Pfizer bid: This is a matter for the companies to resolve themselves. The Govt, quite rightly, should be neutral @BBCNews

11.51am BST

There's no way Pfizer can raise its offer again without getting AstraZeneca onside first, reckons my colleague Sean Farrell who has been checking the situation with City experts:

Qs asked about whether Pfizer can lodge bigger formal offer. I'm told Pfizer cannot offer more than £55 a share before 26 May deadline.

Pfizer offer needs Astra board recommendation. If that happened and Pfizer later had reason to pay more, it could but £55 is the max now.

11.50am BST

Richard Marwood's criticism of AstraZeneca is particularly interesting, as AXA is its third-largest investor with a 4.5% stake.

Jupiter, another firm who voiced concerns this morning, only holds 0.5% of Astra.

11.38am BST

AstraZeneca isn't the only company making news this morning - here's a quick summary of the other big stories:

11.24am BST

AXA's Richard Marwood is the latest investor to go public with his disappointment over AstraZeneca's decision -- he's told ITV that rejection wasn't in shareholders' interests:

Richard Marwood, of Axa tells me "very disappointed" by AZ board "not in shareholders interests" and "very hard to do a deal from here"

11.09am BST

Our financial editor, Nils Pratley, has applauded the AstraZeneca board for its stance on Pfizer:

Well played the board of AstraZeneca. It took a position, argued the merits of a standalone strategy, and has turned down Pfizer's final offer of £55 before any weak-willed fund managers could start muttering their objections. Boards of directors are meant to display independence of mind and backbone. This is a rare occasion when one has.

It is too soon to declare this battle over definitively, but the 14% plunge in AZ's share price says Pfizer requires something extraordinary to happen to get back into the game.

11.09am BST

Here's the full quotes from disgruntled Jupiter fund manager, Alastair Gunn:

"We are disappointed the board of AstraZeneca has rejected Pfizers latest offer so categorically. They should have at least engaged in a constructive conversation with Pfizer on the details of the offer to assess the opportunities that a combined entity could bring."

"There now seems little room left to manoeuvre with Pfizer having ruled out a hostile bid. We will be expressing our dissatisfaction to the AstraZeneca board over the way the bid process has been handled up to now."

10.56am BST

City firm Jupiter Asset Management has just gone public with its disappointment with AstraZeneca's board:

From the Reuters terminal:

10.47am BST

Chuka Umunna, Labour's shadow business secretary, has now issued a formal response to this morning's developments:

"Labour and others have been clear from the outset that if this potential takeover is found not to be in the best interests of British science, jobs and industry it should not proceed - so AstraZeneca's move today to reject Pfizer's final bid is welcome."

"While Labour was standing up for British jobs and British science, David Cameron and his ministers were cheerleading for a takeover bid where one of the primary motivations was financial engineering - cited by the AstraZeneca board as one of the execution risks justifying rejection of the bid.

10.44am BST

The Unite union has urged AstraZeneca shareholders to support the board's decision, and resist the temptation for a "quick buck".

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said investors should "stand firm and look to the long term" (despite being pretty disappointed this morning):

The company has a long term plan and we would urge shareholders to back the workforce and the board.

The latest offer from Pfizer still raises more questions than it answers.

10.40am BST

Reuters has also been speaking to some of AstraZeneca's largest shareholders - and confirms that some of them are unhappy (as we reported at 9.50am)

Here's a flavour:

"We are extremely disappointed with the turn of events at Astra today," said one - a fund manager at a top 10 investor in AstraZeneca after the company rebuffed a raised takeover offer of £55 a share, worth around £70bn ($118bn).

"We do not think the Astra management have done a good job on behalf of shareholders. We had already urged Astra to engage in discussions with Pfizer," added the fund manager on condition of anonymity, as his firm had not authorised him to speak publicly.

Investors who sold out before Astra rejected Pfizer's offer and sent their shares down 11% this morning: Invesco and Capital

10.34am BST

They say Pfizer has the right to ""introduce other forms of consideration and/or vary the mix of consideration", which could mean paying a larger percentage in cash.

"We believe a further cash element would be possible and still meet the conditions of no increase in the overall price and still meet the US tax inversion rules.

The bid is now effectively in the hands of shareholders.

Will pressure from shareholders push the two sides towards a deal at around £57.00?

This is an attractive offer. We expect shareholders to press AstraZeneca to accept this new offer but management will likely want to resist so Pfizer would need to increase its offer one last time.

In mid-morning trading the FTSE 100 is firmly in the red, down 40 points, hit by the latest twist in the AstraZeneca/Pfizer saga.

All attention is focused on AstraZeneca this morning, as the shares dive 14% following the decision of the firm to spurn Pfizers advance. Such a big move in a weighty stock like Astra is bound to leave the index floundering but it is merely a symptom of a wider problem, namely that the market remains directionless after the highs of last week.

Even if Pfizer does walk away, I would expect them to still stalk AstraZeneca and wait for a moment of board weakness to pounce again in the future.

10.09am BST

The Pfizer bid has been a hot potato in Westminster, with the UK government accused of acting like a cheerleader for the US firm - so we shouldn't be surprised that insiders are saying little, so far anyway:

Govt saying little on #Pfizer "we are neutral on the deal and our only interest is in uk science" says one senior official

10.07am BST

Our timeline shows how the battle for AstraZeneca actually began last November, when Pfizer CEO Ian Read suggests the two companies should talk. Six months later, Read found himself being quizzed by MPs....

9.58am BST

So how much have AstraZeneca investors lost? By my reckoning, around £15bn.

Last night the company was valued at almost £61bn -- this morning's double-digit tumble has wiped around £6.5bn off its value.

9.56am BST

AstraZeneca shares are inching back, slightly - now down 10.8% at £43.02 each.

9.50am BST

One of AstraZeneca's biggest shareholders has told the Guardian that the AZ board has committed the single biggest case of shareholder value destruction ever.

My colleague Sean Farrell has the details:

Top 10 AstraZeneca investor says rejecting Pfizer "is the single biggest case of value destruction on behalf of shareholders of all time".

Top 10 AstraZeneca investor says: "I think it [the bid] is closed. Personality clashes have triumphed over shareholder value creation."

9.40am BST

A quick recap if you're just joining us:

"We have rejected Pfizer's Final Proposal because it is inadequate and would present significant risks for shareholders, while also having serious consequences for the Company, our employees and the life-sciences sector in the UK, Sweden and the US."

"From our first meeting in January to our latest discussion yesterday, and in the numerous phone calls in between, Pfizer has failed to make a compelling strategic, business or value case.

The Board is firm in its conviction as to the appropriate terms to recommend to shareholders."

In the decision of AZ's board we see the long term overcoming the short term, fast buck mentality we need to see less of in UK business.

We don't want to see the takeover of great British firms driven by financial engineering - we want them to be driven by long term investment

Pfizer now has very few options and is expected to walk away from the deal.

The chances of AstraZeneca remaining out of Pfizers hands I would now rate at 90%.

9.18am BST

Newsflash on Reuters: Sweden's finance minister, Anders Borg, has urged Astra shareholders to be 'careful' about accepting Pfizer's offer:

9.14am BST

Joshua Raymond, chief market strategist at City Index, believes Pfizer will now walk away from AstraZeneca, but could 'stalk' the company and table a bid in future.

He points out that Astra's board has effectively named its price -- £59 per share -- by revealing this morning that it wanted a 10% premium to the £53.50 tabled over the weekend.

AstraZeneca have rejected Pfizers final offer of £55 a share with a sweetened cash incentive, however, in doing so the board of AstraZeneca have also highlighted the price they would be willing to do business, £59 a share.

This is a quite staggering level, which would represent a near 60% premium on AstraZenecas shares price before rumours first emerged of Pfizers imminent bid. Pfizer now has very few options and is expected to walk away from the deal.

Even if Pfizer does walk away, I would expect them to still stalk AstraZeneca and wait for a moment of board weakness to pounce again in the future.

9.09am BST

Aberdeen Asset Management, one of AstraZeneca's largest investors, reckons Pfizer "could do better" than its 'final' £55 per share offer.

Chief Investment Officer Anne Richards told BBC radio that:

"The price is finely balanced."

"I think it's a good price that's on the table at the moment but probably they could do better than that."

8.54am BST

Did Pfizer offer a fair price for AstraZeneca?

It was hard to evaluate the bid, given the uncertainty over how much Pfizer could trim off its tax bill by redomiciling in Britain. Pfizer's reluctance to discuss its cost-cutting plans in detail also added to the opaqueness.

This looks over. Astra shares should plummet. Co faces tough 3 yrs of shrinking earnings before pipeline comes through. $PFE $AZN

And it wasn't a low-ball bid. Every shareholder I talked to (long-term, pharma specialists) thought it attractive at £50 a sh. $AZN

If you say final, the Takeover Panel holds you to that (well, for 6 mths). So AstraZeneca hinting at acceptable price (c. £59) is moot.

8.40am BST

More tweets from Labour's shadow business minister, Chuka Umunna, hailed Astra's board for taking the long-term view:

In the decision of AZ's board we see the long term overcoming the short term, fast buck mentality we need to see less of in UK business.

We don't want to see the takeover of great British firms driven by financial engineering - we want them to be driven by long term investment

8.39am BST

AstraZeneca's sliding share price (still down 13%) has helped to knock the FTSE 100 into the red.

It's down 32 points this morning at 6822; away from the 14-year high hit last week.

8.32am BST

Just interviewed Leif Johansson, AstraZeneca, says Pfizer's approach is not at the "friendly end" of the spectrum. Was blindsided by offer

8.27am BST

FastFT flags up that AstraZeneca's chairman appears a little uncertain about the situation.

Asked if this is the end of the battle, Leif Johansson replied:

I have no idea, this has been going on for quite some time, and in very deep engagement over the whole of the weekend. Pfizer now says this is the final offer - I have to believe them at what they say.

8.25am BST

Not longer a Pfizer riser: #AstraZeneca shares fall 13.1% after management rejected "final" offer from US group

8.17am BST

This charts shows how AstraZeneca's shares have tumbled right back to their level in late April, after Pfizer made its first approach (but before it raised it).

8.07am BST

AstraZeneca shares have tumbled 13% at the start of trading to £41.90 per share.

That's down from £48 on Friday night, as investors react to its decision to rebuff Pfizer's final, £55 per share, offer this morning.

8.05am BST

Astra chairman Johansson also dubbed Pfizer's proposal "controversial" --probably a reference to the company's plans to shift its tax base to the UK from the US.

Pfizer offer "too low" in deal "identified as controversial from beginning", AstraZeneca chairman tells @BBCr4today

8.03am BST

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, AstraZeneca chairman Leif Johansson insisted his board were right to reject Pfizer:

Their offer is too low, we have better opportunity to create value for shareholders... in an undisrupted way.

8.01am BST

#FTSE100 called -15pts as China property data revives slowdown fears, and AZN rejects 'final' £55 PFE bid

8.00am BST

Chuka Umnuna, shadow business minister, says AstraZeneca's board have done the right thing for their company, and the UK.

I very much welcome the rejection of Pfizer's final offer by the board of AstraZeneca.The right decision for the company and for the country

7.58am BST

Trading on the London stock market begins at 8am, so we'll have the City's verdict soon....

AstraZeneca shares closed at £48.23 on Friday night. They were worth £35 in January when Pfizer made its first, quiet, approach, and £38 in April when its ambitions were made public.

7.50am BST

Pfizer has said its bid is "final" and won't go hostile, its only hope now is if AstraZeneca's shareholders rebel against the board.

7.48am BST

Sam Fazeli, Bloomberg's pharmaceuticals correspondent, sees little chance that AstraZeneca's investors will rebel and demand talks with Pfizer.

He explains that shareholders could go to the company and say 'you've made your decision, but now we'd like you to talk to them'.

I think that is unlikely, as it would be a vote of no confidence in the company's management.

7.44am BST

So what happens now?

Under City rules, because Pfizer said its £55 per share offer is "final" it cannot raise it again, unless there's a material change in circumstances (the first bullet point at the bottom of Pfizer's last offer makes this point).

7.30am BST

You can read AstraZeneca's official statement to shareholders here:

7.27am BST

AstraZeneca rebuffs "final" offer of £55/share but seems to suggest that it would have recommended a bid of £58+ to shareholders.

7.25am BST

AstraZeneca chairman Leif Johansson also criticised Pfizer for being motivated by the prospect of cutting its tax bill, by shifting its tax base to the UK.

"Pfizer's approach throughout its pursuit of AstraZeneca appears to have been fundamentally driven by the corporate financial benefits to its shareholders of cost savings and tax minimisation. From our first meeting in January to our latest discussion yesterday, and in the numerous phone calls in between, Pfizer has failed to make a compelling strategic, business or value case. The Board is firm in its conviction as to the appropriate terms to recommend to shareholders."

"We have rejected Pfizer's Final Proposal because it is inadequate and would present significant risks for shareholders, while also having serious consequences for the Company, our employees and the life-sciences sector in the UK, Sweden and the US."

7.22am BST

Now this is interesting -- AstraZeneca told Pfizer on Friday night that its minimum acceptable price was around £59 per share (or around £74bn in total, I think).

Last night's final offer of£55 per share is obviously short of that:

"Pascal Soriot, Marc Dunoyer and I had a lengthy discussion with Pfizer over the weekend about the proposal Pfizer made on Friday evening at a value of £53.50 per share. During this discussion, Pfizer said that it could consider only minor improvements in the financial terms of the Friday Proposal. In response, we indicated, even assuming that other key aspects of any proposal had been satisfactory, that the price at which the Board of AstraZeneca would be prepared to provide a recommendation would have to be more than 10% above the level contained in Pfizer's Friday Proposal.

The Final Proposal is a minor improvement which continues to fall short of the Board's view of value and has been rejected."

But importantly #Astrazeneca now names it's price . Chairman says willing to consider anything above £59 a share. #Pfizer

7.17am BST

AstraZeneca says it rejected Pfizer's £69bn offer because of the risk a takeover would pose to its pharmaceutical work, and the uncertainty it would create, as well as on price grounds.

The company says last night's Final Proposal "falls short of AstraZeneca's value as an independent science-led company.

AstraZeneca has excellent momentum in the delivery of its clearly defined strategy, underpinning the Board's confidence in the Company's long term revenue targets and profitability

Pfizer's proposals bring uncertainty and risks for AstraZeneca shareholders

7.12am BST

Breaking: AstraZeneca has just told the City that it has rejected Pfizer's increased offer of £55 per share, declaring that it fails to recognise its full value.

7.11am BST

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, the world economy, business and the eurozone.

The City is on tenterhooks this morning, after Pfizer raised its takeover offer for AstraZeneca last night, and sweetened the cash component of the deal.

If you missed it, last night was a big one for buyout moves: #Pfizer offered £69.4bn for #AstraZeneca & AT&T agreed $48.5bn bid for DirecTV.

Day 243 of the Pfizer/AstraZeneca story. At least, it's starting to feel like that.

Continue reading...


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stv.tvGeorgios Samaras included in Greece's 23-man World Cup squadstv.tvGreece coach Fernando Santos has named his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil. The Greeks, who are in Group C alongside Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan, have opted for an experienced group for the tournament. Celtic's Georgios Samaras is ...


Greek opposition declares anti-austerity triumph in local vote

By Lefteris Papadimas ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's main opposition party Syriza declared a victory for its anti-austerity message on Monday after its candidates fared strongly in big local election races in Athens and the surrounding region. In what may have been a foretaste of the upcoming European Parliament vote, the radical leftist party's candidates got most votes on Sunday in the race to govern the wider Athens region and for Athens mayor, knocking out Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's mayoral candidate. "This is an omen for political change because Greeks are extremely frustrated, disappointed and desperate because of austerity policies and are trying to find a way to express this frustration," Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras told La Repubblica newspaper in Italy where he was campaigning on Monday. "The polls show that Syriza will win the EU (Parliament) elections next Sunday and this will probably trigger political developments in the country but also send a strong message to Europe against austerity." Syriza, which is against Greece's European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout, has sought to cast the local and EU elections next week as a referendum on the ruling coalition's pro-bailout, austerity policies.


Greece Squad for Brazil World Cup Announced

“The only selection criteria was to pick players who make me feel safe concerning tactics, and are in good physical shape. Until 3-4 weeks ago, I wasn’t 100 percent about all the choices, like Mitroglou, whom at the time I hadn’t seen on the field.


Greek Cyprus lenders expect shallower recession

Hurriyet Daily NewsGreek Cyprus lenders expect shallower recessionHurriyet Daily NewsGreek Cyprus teetered on the verge of financial collapse in March 2013 after its banking system imploded from risky lending, exacerbating a cash squeeze on a state which has been shut out of financial markets for three years.The island, one of the euro ...Lenders conclude Greek Cypriot missionwww.worldbulletin.netall 107 news articles »