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About The APEX Consulting Group

The Apex Consulting Group is a specialist management consulting firm focusing on advising clients in South-East Asia and Australia. We are committed to assisting our clients accomplish the business success and growth targets they strive to achieve. We support our clients by providing insightful, frank and objective advice in relation to business problems that affect their bottom-line results. Clients look to us for practical assistance with strategic and operational challenges; and, for an outside perspective on day-to-day business issues that demand creative solutions. We think internationally but we understand and develop solutions that are locally relevant. We assist our clients in areas such as human resources, sales, marketing, finance, business strategy, supply chain management, value chain management and corporate social responsibility. Company Background Our people have significant international management consulting experience in Indonesia, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. We have successfully provided client solutions for private corporations, government-owned enterprises, government agencies and not-for-profit organisations. Through extensive industry experience, we have developed a rigorous financial management system that ensures transparency and accountability. Our comprehensive systems for managing projects have been refined to the highest standards and include continuous improvement processes to ensure the highest level of client satisfaction and project outcomes. Source: http://www.apex-cg .com/eng/mainabout .php  (Oct 23, 2013 | post #1)

Business News

Crown International | China Expected To start US$1.3 billion

China Expected To start US$1.3 billion Hwange Thermal Station Expansion Project Source: http://kahlilburke ns.livejournal.com /2222.html Harare-The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is embarking on a US$1,3 billion expansion programme for Hwange Thermal Station in a move that will see the power utility increase its power generation by 600 megawatts. The tender for the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station was awarded to China Machinery Engineering Co-operation (CMEC) by the State Procurement Board and contract negotiations have been under way since May this year. The expansion project will see the thermal station having two additional units each producing 300 megawatts of power. The initiative has seen a ZPC team visit Shanghai, Harbin Boiler Turbine and Generator Manufacturers in China to have an appreciation of the projects that have been undertaken by CMEC. Speaking during a ministerial visit at Hwange Thermal Power Station, Zimbabwe Power Company General Manager in charge of projects Washington Mareya said funding negotiations which had stopped before elections have resumed. He said they will include the finalisation of the Bill of Quantities and commercial negotiations, while the signing of the contract is expected to be held on the 11th of next month. Mareya said the power utility is also embarking on another expansion programme which will see the installation of an additional two units each producing 150 megawatts at a cost of US$354 million at Kariba Hydro-Electric Power Station. Sino-Hydro of China which has been awarded the contract to undertake the Kariba Power Station expansion programme is already on the site to carry out investigations which will pave way for the basic design for the project which is expected to take 42 months to complete. Meanwhile, ZPC is also embarking on the Gairezi Mini-Hydro Project which is expected to produce 30 megawatts at cost of US$120 million and the feasibility study has been carried out while the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been approved. The project is expected to take up to 36 months. The expansion projects that the power utility is embarking on have been initiated at a time when the country is undergoing excessive power cuts due to frequent breakdowns and use of obsolete equipment, among other factors.  (Oct 9, 2013 | post #1)

Life

GlobalTimes | Stronger UN needed to help avert environmen...

Toward the end of June, the haze pollution broke records by big margins both in Singapore and Malaysia. Although the situation is much better now, the haze problem is so powerful that five ASEAN countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei - have convened a meeting to discuss the cross-border issue in mid-July. These countries have suffered for decades from the haze created by the burning of forests in Indonesia. Why has this problem not been solved earlier? Burning is the most economical way of clearing forests for plantation, but only from the viewpoint of the farmers and plantation companies. From a global perspective, it is most uneconomical, as the costs imposed on others that the burners do not pay for are enormous. Some economists have conservatively estimated the damages to Singapore from Indonesia's forest fires at about SG$5 million ($3.95 million) a day, which work out to just under than SG$1 per day per capita. These estimates include medical bills, tourism losses, businesses hit, and face masks bought. Focused on more tangible figures and as lower bounds, such figures are not incorrect; however, they grossly underestimate the severity of the problem. They do not adequately reflect the main costs which are the negative health effects, the worries caused, and the effects on global warming. Some issues that need to be resolved: http://www.slidesh are.net/elberichac him/jakarta-crown- capital-eco-manage ment-environmental -scam-prevention-w atch By means of the average of the willing-to-pay and the necessary compensation, it is estimated that the losses per day would be orders of magnitude larger. This is also an alert to other countries, including China, that they cannot just focus on the more tangible costs of environmental damages and hence underestimate the true importance of environmental protection. The meeting that happened in July is encouraging but not enough. Environmental issues, especially climate change, are global problems. Regional meetings do not address the global external benefits of forests adequately. A global approach is also needed. With the advance of science and technology, economic growth and globalization, and campaigns against terrorism and environmental disruption, the world has become much more integrated. Each of the 200-odd countries of the world cannot just look after its own backyard. That is why we have organizations like the UN. But the UN is much less powerful than national governments. The budget of a national government is typically in the order of 30 percent of GNP, whereas the UN budget is less than 0.01 percent of global GNP. In addition, the UN has much less power of coercion than a national government. The UN needs to be empowered to do its job properly. While a democratic and responsible world government would be ideal, a more realistic intermediate step would be to empower the UN by increasing its membership contributions and its cooperation with the WTO. Unfortunately, economists are typically in favor of free trade and reluctant to use the sanctions of WTO to achieve other objectives. Global cooperation to tackle environmental problems has not made much progress, with a number of countries withdrawing from the protocol. Many environmental scientists believe that, due to the existence of tipping points and cascading effects, we may only have a few decades left to prevent catastrophic destruction of our living environment. I hope that many countries, including China, Malaysia and Singapore, take the initiative of approaching the UN with a sensible proposal to empower the organization, and thereby more effectively solve regional and global environmental problems.  (Aug 5, 2013 | post #1)

World News

Stronger UN needed to help avert environmental disasters ...

Toward the end of June, the haze pollution broke records by big margins both in Singapore and Malaysia. Although the situation is much better now, the haze problem is so powerful that five ASEAN countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei - have convened a meeting to discuss the cross-border issue in mid-July. These countries have suffered for decades from the haze created by the burning of forests in Indonesia. Why has this problem not been solved earlier? Burning is the most economical way of clearing forests for plantation, but only from the viewpoint of the farmers and plantation companies. From a global perspective, it is most uneconomical, as the costs imposed on others that the burners do not pay for are enormous. Some economists have conservatively estimated the damages to Singapore from Indonesia's forest fires at about SG$5 million ($3.95 million) a day, which work out to just under than SG$1 per day per capita. These estimates include medical bills, tourism losses, businesses hit, and face masks bought. Focused on more tangible figures and as lower bounds, such figures are not incorrect; however, they grossly underestimate the severity of the problem. They do not adequately reflect the main costs which are the negative health effects, the worries caused, and the effects on global warming. Some issues that need to be resolved –http://occupywall st.org/forum/carbo n-trading-scam-cro wn-capital-eco-man agement/ By means of the average of the willing-to-pay and the necessary compensation, it is estimated that the losses per day would be orders of magnitude larger. This is also an alert to other countries, including China, that they cannot just focus on the more tangible costs of environmental damages and hence underestimate the true importance of environmental protection. The meeting that happened in July is encouraging but not enough. Environmental issues, especially climate change, are global problems. Regional meetings do not address the global external benefits of forests adequately. A global approach is also needed. With the advance of science and technology, economic growth and globalization, and campaigns against terrorism and environmental disruption, the world has become much more integrated. Each of the 200-odd countries of the world cannot just look after its own backyard. That is why we have organizations like the UN. But the UN is much less powerful than national governments. The budget of a national government is typically in the order of 30 percent of GNP, whereas the UN budget is less than 0.01 percent of global GNP. In addition, the UN has much less power of coercion than a national government. The UN needs to be empowered to do its job properly. While a democratic and responsible world government would be ideal, a more realistic intermediate step would be to empower the UN by increasing its membership contributions and its cooperation with the WTO. Unfortunately, economists are typically in favor of free trade and reluctant to use the sanctions of WTO to achieve other objectives. Global cooperation to tackle environmental problems has not made much progress, with a number of countries withdrawing from the protocol. Many environmental scientists believe that, due to the existence of tipping points and cascading effects, we may only have a few decades left to prevent catastrophic destruction of our living environment. I hope that many countries, including China, Malaysia and Singapore, take the initiative of approaching the UN with a sensible proposal to empower the organization, and thereby more effectively solve regional and global environmental problems.  (Aug 5, 2013 | post #1)

US News

Scam watch educational awareness: why call it Intelligence?

Alas, democracy usually dies behind closed doors. America thinker | The American Intelligence Community (IC) is starting to resemble a large cast of delinquents, a Faustian opera where bad behavior seeks constant rationalization and confirmation. And like most bad behavior, the real remedy might not be that complicated. Restraint is always an obvious solution; unfortunately, this is an obvious path seldom prescribed or taken by any branch of government these days, especially Intelligence agencies. Ironically, the 9/11 attack in New York, the worst warning failure since Pearl Harbor, produced a knee-jerk windfall for American Intelligence. Like public school systems, failure became a kind of fiscal stimulus. The logic behind such largess is bigness, the assumption that more is the key to effectiveness: more personnel, more toys, more facilities, and more deficit spending. Unfortunately, these days, big Intelligence looks more like the problem than the solution. And the performance deficit didn't begin with Benghazi or Boston. On this corner: http://goo.gl/m3gx w The problem with truth is that it often makes action imperative. Alter truth and the need to act can always be deferred. Or maybe it was the "shock and awe" of not finding any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after being assured by national intelligence estimates (see George Tenant and Colin Powell at the UN, 2003) that Saddam Hussein was so armed. Were truths told: Iraq 1 was about oil and Iraq 2 was about regime change? And let's be candid, since the invasion of Kuwait (1990), regime change has been the leitmotif of American and European foreign policy. This sponsored change strategy is underwritten by an assertion that imperial Sunni Islam is a protected religion, not theocratic fascism or puerile imperial politics. Intelligence has lost its original moorings. All agencies begin with good ideas until the institution becomes the enemy of the original ideal. Big Intelligence is an example of such excess and decay. And the failure of the IC to provide strategic warning is not the worst of it. American Intelligence is frontloaded; omnivorous collection undone by inadequate processing and tainted analysis. Analysis is both the product and weakest link in the Intelligence chain. The most expensive technical collection systems on earth feed the worst amateur estimates. And this corrupt product sets the stage for all manner of national security folly. Just two examples suffice; John Brennan and Susan Rice. Personalities, we might point out, promoted recently for being agenda merchants, accomplished liars, and not very modest about either skill. Loyalty, not achievement or professional integrity, seems to be the only bullet on Obama staff resumes. If ground truth is bureaucratic revision or political spin, why call it an assessment or analysis, no less Intelligence? If national security analysis can be suborned by political hacks, the IC might be just another cabal of pricy beltway whores. James Clapper is one of the most impressive chaps working in Washington. He began his military career as an enlisted Marine and rose to become an Air Force general. Eventually, he became the Director of National Intelligence. His technical achievements in Intelligence collection are impressive. Prism, speaks for itself. Somewhere along the way, however, Clapper also sold his soul. American national security has devolved into a very expensive game of liar's poker where the voting public needs to be kept in the dark too. Jim Clapper admits as much in Congressional testimony. In doing so, General Clapper tells us that truth and administration politics are mutually exclusive. Deception in the name of national security might be justified, but lying in the name of venal politics makes American Intelligence a very frivolous extravagance.  (Jul 8, 2013 | post #1)

US News

US Taxpayers & the Great Barrier Reef Coal Scam

(Jakarta environmental issues crown eco management) | A scathing new report out today outlines just how risky some of the world's largest coal export projects are. Funnily enough, they're not the risks environmentalists care about - the fact that they're going to be built inside the great barrier reef for instance. No, what the report is concerned with are the risks to the billions in investment at stake if the projects go sideways. If I had my money on the line (which I might if US Ex Im Bank President Fred Hochberg uses US taxpayer dollars to subsidize this boondoggle ) I'd pay attention because the report doesn't come from just anyone, but from financial industry heavyweights Tom Sanzillo (former New York State Comptroller) and Tim Buckley (former head of Australasian equity research at Citigroup). | huffingtonpost Before we get into the risks outlined in the report let's start with the project as the developer (GVK) sees it: India has 300 million people without electricity, the country is facing a supply crunch of epic proportions), and the government is hell bent on building a massive pipeline of projects. GVK is well suited to help fuel this pipeline and alleviate the supply crunch by developing one of the world's largest integrated coal mine, rail, and export project in nearby Australia. Seems pretty cut and dry, what exactly has these analysts so worried? Leverage, leverage, leverage. It turns out GVK is trying to pull a fast one on Australian investors by getting them to pony up the cash for the project to cover the holes in their own balance sheets - which are enormous. Check out the graph below comparing the projects costs ($10 billion) with the current market capitalization of GVK ($243 million). That combined with net deb t of ~$2.7 Billion and GVK faces a whopping 1,149% debt to market ratio. For the financially illiterate - it's a financial crisis waiting to happen. News watch: http://goo.gl/qST9 S Normally this kind of analysis drives me crazy because the 'rational' market rarely prices in such risk. Instead institutions like the Ex Im Bank provide a rubber stamp and average citizens are on the hook for crazy financial decisions. Turns out GVK is the exception to the rule. Check out how much their stock price has tanked in the past year. For those counting that's 80% below the Indian market index. One of the biggest reasons for the crash is likely the fact that despite claiming to be a "leading global infrastructure owner, manager and operator" GVKPIL (a shell company created to hide the company's debt - more on that later) has no experience operating any business outside of India. Worse, it has never successfully built and operated a coal mine - ever. That's right, the company planning to develop the world's largest vertically integrated coal export project smack dab in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef has no experience doing anything like this. This should turn out well. But there's a coal supercycle, never ending demand shall save this from catastrophe right? Not quite. Under existing financial assumptions, the Alpha Project's cost of coal production is likely to render the project uneconomic. The Newcastle FOB thermal coal price is currently around US$88/t, 30% below the peak seen in 2008. This leaves little headroom to move against a largely debt-funded US$10bn project proposal with a cash cost of production estimated to be at least US$70/t. Why does this matter? Because GVK is claiming production costs of US$55/t. Add to that Australian mining history which suggests capital cost blowouts of over 20% are likely, and you have a lot of lost cash. It's ironic because the first time I wrote about this project I was disgusted that the US Export Import Bank would be involved with a project whose environmental impact would be so large Australia's federal environment minister Toney Burke called its review a 'shambolic joke.'  (Jun 20, 2013 | post #1)

World News

China to Enhance Strategic Mutual Trust with EU: Li

https://plus.googl e.com/103588381206 498849384/posts Google Community | Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is wrapping up his visit to Germany and says China wants to work with the European Union to build up trust and cooperation. China and Germany have pledged to strengthen extensive economic cooperation as the two sides signed 17 deals on manufacturing, investment, agriculture and energy saving. The Chinese Premier says the visit to Germany shows the new Chinese leadership highly values its relation with the European Union. He says the common interests between China and Europe are far greater than the differences. That comment comes as Li Keqiang once again reiterated China's opposition to the EU's pursuit of anti-dumping cases them. "We decisively disapprove of this decision. This decision will not only endanger jobs in China and the development of the affected sectors, it will also endanger the European sector in that area." Meng Hong, an expert on German studies with China Renmin University, says consultation is the best way-out. "Actually, not only Germany but also other European companies in related industries are protesting against double tariffs imposed on solar products made in China. If sanctions are put on Chinese solar companies, development of certain industries in Europe might be affected. All of us are hoping to find an appropriate way out through compromise and consultation rather than intensifying the problem." Earlier, Germany officially told the European Commission it did not back the imposition of import duties averaging at around 47 percent on Chinese solar panels. The Chinese Premier says they want to work with European countries to promote cooperation. An example of that's perhaps the free trade agreement signed during Li Keqiang's visit to Switzerland, making them the first European country to do so. Feng Zhongping, the director of the European Studies with China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, says the deal serves as a model for the cooperation with the rest of Europe. "The free trade agreement will boost bilateral trade and investment, especially the cooperation in financial field. China is Switzerland's largest economic partner in Asia, and the FTA will cut down restrictions on trade including tariff, so the deal is a key move. " Germany now, is the Premier's last leg of his first ever overseas tour since taking office. Along with Switzerland, it also included visits to India and Pakistan. As far as Europe is concerned, the Chinese Premier says they want to see a strong Europe and that China's development will only present more opportunities to not just European but the global economy.  (May 28, 2013 | post #1)