Grave concerns for sailor adrift on a life raft south of Tasmania as rescue described as a ‘very big if’

A lone French yachtsman adrift in a life raft south of Tasmania is facing 7 metre swells and winds of up to 75 kilometres an hour in a rescue described as a “very big if” by the captain of the vessel tasked to save him.
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A 63-year-old French national, Alain Deloard, an accomplished French sailor with 17 trans-Atlantic voyages under his belt, abandoned his fibreglass yacht after activating an emergency beacon on Friday.

“A plane has been able to pick up a signal from the sailor and he appears to be in a life raft, so there are grave concerns for his safety,” said Joel Katz, CEO of Sydney-based Orion Expeditions, whose flagship vessel MV Orion is scheduled to rendezvous with the life raft at 6:00pm tomorrow.

The Orion, the only vessel responding to the distress call it received on Friday, was 11 days into an 18-day Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic tour when it was asked to divert to the rescue. It is equipped with 10 Zodiacs and highly experienced crew perfectly suited to mount a recovery effort in heavy seas.

“It is going to be tough,” says Orion expedition leader Don McIntrye. “The forecast is for 30 knot winds gusting to 40 knots and the seas will probably be around 7 metres. He has to hang on until tomorrow night and that will be really challenging as his life raft could capsize at any time.

“His biggest threat won’t be sharks but the physical damage from the waves and hypothermia from the cold. Hopefully he will be wearing a survival suit. The French have a very good understanding of the need for survival suits. It’ll really improve his chances of survival.”

But Orion’s Captain Mike Taylor said finding the yachtsman could also be a challenge: “Now that it’s become apparent he is in a life raft and not in a boat, it has become more problematic because a life raft is harder to see. It’s a very big ocean out there.”

“Providing we can locate him – and that’s a very big ‘if’ – the plan is to put the ship as close to the raft as we can and launch a Zodiac,” Taylor said. “The Zodiac is about the same height as a raft, so it’s a simple case of tethering the two together and pulling him into the Zodiac. That’s it in a nutshell.”

“It must have been a hell of a job to launch the raft in the kind of conditions he faced earlier on. So my assumption is he is going to be in a traumatised state.”

Taylor has experience in maritime searches – he was on the ship that recovered the kayak of Australian adventurer Andrew McAuley who disappeared, presumed drowned, 35 miles off the coast of the South Island of New Zealand during an attempt to kayak solo across the Tasman Sea in February 2007.

The moment the yachtsman is brought onboard, he will be attended by Orion’s chief medical officer Dr Chris Bulstrode, an emeritus professor in trauma at Oxford University with extensive work experience in Haiti, Gaza and other disaster zones.

“The first thing I will want to know is if he is conscious,” Bulstrode said. “If he is, I will have very little to worry about other than warming him, giving him fluids and sorting out any injuries he’s got. It’ll be very straightforward.”

Bulstrode said a regular passenger would almost certainly perish under such conditions, but in this case the chances of survival are high.

“He seems to be a very experienced sailor and they are tough buggers, so I would put his chances of survival way higher than most, perhaps as high as 75 percent,” he said. “With all his experience, he must have experienced some similar kind of disaster in the past.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

General Electric bullish on 2013

US industrial giant General Electric has closed out 2012 with a better-than-expected quarter and offered a bullish outlook for 2013.
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The US conglomerate said fourth-quarter operating earnings, the number most closely watched by analysts, came in at 44 US cents per share, one cent above the 43 cents forecast by analysts.

Net income, which includes non-operating pension costs, came in at 38 cents per share.

General Electric, which builds power generation equipment, wind turbines and other industrial products, said all of the sub-units of General Electric’s industrial division showed year-on-year gains, with double-digit percentage increases in oil and gas, energy management, aviation and transportation.

GE Capital, the company’s financing unit, posted 9 per cent year-on-year growth, the company said.GE said it repurchased $US2.1 billion ($2.00 billion) in stock during the fourth quarter, and in December raised its quarterly dividend by 12 per cent to 19 US cents per share.

Chief executive Jeffrey Immelt gave a bullish outlook for 2013, pledging double-digit industrial earnings growth and promising to return ‘‘substantial cash’’ to investors.

Immelt at one point even seemed to suggest the company could undertake acquisitions, noting that it would have a ‘‘tonne of cash’’ over the next three years.In December, Immelt spoke of an ‘‘investment pause’’ in some sectors, partly linked to the protracted Washington DC policy debate on the fiscal cliff.

Analysts during a conference call observed that GE’s new orders in the fourth quarter appeared to be somewhat more robust than implied by the company.Immelt acknowledged that the end of the company’s quarter came in ‘‘very strong’’ with orders ‘‘probably above what our expectations were’’.

Immelt also said the end of 2012 saw orders from China strengthen again, adding that ‘‘we believe the China momentum will likely continue into 2013’’.Strong sectors in China included the company’s power and water, health care and aviation divisions.

A note from Deutsche Bank characterised the quality of GE’s results on Friday as ‘‘better than expected’’. A Bank of America note predicted that GE’s quarter ‘‘should give the Street reassurance that it is on track to hit its growth target’’.

GE shares closed on Friday at $US22.04, up 3.5 per cent.


The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Morgan Stanley bet on wealth management pays off

Morgan Stanley chief executive James Gorman said the bank has turned itself around and can meet its goals for profitability, his boldest pronouncement yet about the near-term potential for a company that has long lagged its peers.
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The investment bank and wealth manager on Friday posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ average estimate by a wide margin, helped by a big jump in trading revenue and stronger performance in its wealth management group.

Morgan Stanley’s fixed-income trading business performed worse than its rivals, and its overall return on equity, a measure of how efficiently the bank wrings profit from shareholder money, was less than half that of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. But Gorman told investors the bank was “working aggressively” to improve its return on equity.

In current market conditions, the bank’s return on equity can reach 10 per cent, Gorman said on a conference call. Analysts said the figure is the bare minimum that many investors demand, but it is far above Morgan Stanley’s recent performance, and Gorman’s statement marks the first time Morgan Stanley has said it can meet that goal even if business doesn’t pick up.

“After a year of significant challenges, Morgan Stanley has reached a pivot point,” Gorman said in a statement. “Our firm is now poised to reach the returns of which it is capable on behalf of our shareholders.”

Morgan Stanley’s stock climbed as much as 8.2 per cent on Friday, to $US22.46, the highest price since August 2011 and marking the biggest intraday jump since June, before closing at $US22.38.

“I think Morgan Stanley has turned the corner,” said Joe Terril, president of St. Louis-based money manager Terril & Co, which invests in bank stocks. “I believe they’ll gradually improve quarter after quarter – it’s not a one-time event.”

Morgan Stanley said its wealth management division delivered a 17 per cent pretax profit margin in the quarter, exceeding an internal target months ahead of schedule.

The wealth management division is closely watched by investors because Gorman is staking the future of the bank on it, arguing that more stable returns there will help offset volatility from trading and investment banking.

Morgan Stanley is one of several Wall Street banks using layoffs and compensation cuts to help boost its bottom line. The firm paid out 44 per cent of adjusted revenue to employees in its securities and investment banking business last year, down from 53 per cent in 2011, chief financial officer Ruth Porat said in an interview.

Across the entire company, compensation costs fell by $US711 million, or 4 per cent, in 2012 as Morgan Stanley cut nearly 5,000 employees from its payroll.

One senior employee might decide to leave. The Obama administration is considering Porat for a position as Treasury deputy secretary, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters, which could leave Morgan Stanley shuffling the decks in top management. Porat would not comment.

Overall, the bank reported fourth-quarter income from continuing operations of $US573 million, or 28 cents per share, compared with a loss of $US222 million, or 13 cents per share, in the year-ago period, when it took a big one-time charge.

Excluding a charge related to changes in the value of Morgan Stanley’s debt, the bank earned $US894 million, or 45 cents per share. On that basis, analysts’ average forecast was 27 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In sales and trading, adjusted revenue more than doubled from a year earlier, to $US2 billion from $US867 million. Fixed-income, currency and commodities trading revenue was $US811 million, adjusted for accounting charges, compared with a loss of $US493 million a year earlier.

Glenn Schorr, an analyst at Nomura, said Morgan Stanley’s fixed-income currency and commodities trading business posted an increase of 26 per cent in adjusted revenue, while peers reported an average gain of 43 per cent.

The division suffered because of historically weak revenue in commodities trading, which faced unexpected price movements related to weather and lower prices in its storage business. The unit reported its worst results since 1995, Gorman said on CNBC.

Curbs on banks trading with their own money and the impact of fracking lowering prices for certain commodities have eaten into banks’ profits in commodities, a once-lucrative trading business for Wall Street.

Merger advisory revenue rose 12 per cent to $US454 million, while stock and bond underwriting revenue rose 62 per cent to $US771 million.

Morgan Stanley is the last big US bank to report earnings this week. Rival Goldman Sachs on Wednesday said it cut compensation costs 11 per cent in the fourth quarter, helping boost returns to shareholders.


The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Woods, McIlroy miss cut in Abu Dhabi

The world’s top two golfers, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, both missed the cut in their first tournament of the season at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Friday.
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McIlroy finished well outside the cut line, while playing partner Woods appeared to have squeezed into the weekend before he was hit with a two-stroke penalty for a rules infringement that sunk his challenge.

By the time the dust had settled, England’s Justin Rose was the leader at the halfway stage at eight under par after a 69, with rising Danish star Thorbjorn Olesen (69), Jamie Donaldson of Wales (70) and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (67) all a further stroke back.

But it was the astonishing double demise of McIlroy and Woods that was the story of the day.

Playing for the first time in competition with his new Nike clubs after signing a mega-money, long-term deal with the US sportswear giant, the 23-year-old McIlroy clearly failed to get the hang of his new sticks.

Starting the day well down the field after an opening 75, McIlroy had three straight pars but that failed to steady his ship and three bogeys in the next four holes sent him spiralling to six over, well outside the projected cut line.

He birdied eight and nine to pick up some hope, but bogeys at the 10th and 14th all but sealed his fate in a tournament where he was runner-up last year with his old Titleist clubs.

Another wild drive into desert scrub at the last summed up his day as he eventually came in with another 75, which left him tied for 99th position and with no hope of making it through to the weekend.

The last cut McIlroy missed was at the US Open in San Francisco last June, which ended a run of three missed cuts in four tournaments.

It was shortly after that that his game suddenly picked up again and he went on to win the USPGA title at Kiawah and the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic.

”I knew it was going to be a tough week with everything going on, but I was just looking forward to getting to the golf course and getting back to what I do and what I am comfortable with,” a clearly frustrated McIlroy said.

”It just didn’t work out like that.”

Playing partner and Nike stablemate Woods also struggled to find his game as he bogeyed four of the first five holes.

But the 37-year-old world No.2 produced a battling back nine with three birdies in a row from the 14th to get back to level par. A bogey after another wild drive at the 17th popped him over par, but he shot regulation on the last to come in with a 73.

That left him at one over for the tournament, with the cut projected at two over. But it was then announced that he had been hit by a two-stroke penalty for a rules infringement in sand at the fifth hole, turning a five into a seven.

That was enough to seal his fate.

”It’s tough because I didn’t get off to a very good start today and I fought and got it back,” he said of the penalty stroke drama.


The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Evolution of a modernist

Robin Boyd said he intended the building to challenge what motel chains stood for.Adaptive reuse is a term architecture has co-opted to describe buildings that were one thing and have been remodelled to have a second life for another function.
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Factories and warehouses converted to residences are the prime examples of recycled structures that often retain and celebrate old bashed up features amid their modern layouts and facilities.

An iconic Queens Road building by the increasingly revered mid-century Melbourne modernist architect, author and teacher Robin Boyd, was an adapted building from the start. And since it opened in 1962 as Melbourne’s first ”motor inn”, swank enough to hostel the Rolling Stones during their first Australian tour in 1965, it has been re-adapted several times. It has been a hotel crossed with a motel, a bank training facility, a college for ambulance officers and, since 2000, a rooming house with accommodation for 67 people who need affordable or supported housing options.

It is 50 years old and its revolutionary-for-the-time sweepingly curved skeleton roof frame has been visually overwhelmed by all the high-rise development that has occurred and is still taking place around it. Yet, apart from the gardens that have grown weedy, this beautifully formed six-level structure made of grey concrete block in an overtly expressed concrete frame, and a Boyd signature of vertically massed ribbon windows, is as fresh and strong a piece of architecture as it was when Boyd first adapted the structural grid of a building initially intended to become serviced apartments.

In the early 1960s, when 35 per cent of Australian households had saved up to buy a family car it made more sense to the developers of the 2024 square metre corner block on Queens Road and Lorne Street and overlooking Albert Park Lake to offer drive-in-drop-off and park underneath traveller accommodation.

Boyd was asked to take on the adaptive design and achieved a remodelling so effective that the building now known as ”the former John Batman Motor Inn” is heritage listed and considered of state significance ”as a rare attempt in the early 1960s to inject a memorable visual image (ie, the spectacular curved roof) on to a building”.

Boyd said he intended the building ”in its own way, to challenge practically everything motel chains stood for”. Explaining the choice of unadorned concrete materiality, he said he had wanted to create a building that was ”highly urbanised” yet at the same time, highly sophisticated. He had ”aimed at higher tastes”.

Under the mantling canopy he set a two-level honeymoon suite. Underneath the whole building he set in an unusual recessed porte cochere, or car drop-off entry point.

Throughout, Boyd chose the carpets and colours and designed much of the furnishings.

In the past decade, Melbourne has gone gaga for mid-century modernist architecture and particularly if properties carry the Boyd imprimatur. Until it ceased operating as a motor inn in the early 1970s, this Boyd was considered the height of cool and, through all the subsequent re-adaptions, has lost none of that cachet. A building that has gathered no ”period” moss stands as quiet justification of the reputation of Robin Boyd (1919-1971) to be considered one of the true greats of Australian architecture.

The former John Batman Motor Inn, 69 Queens Road, Melbourne. Melway 2L B12.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.