Client Weekly Update – 24 February

Market update

European markets are mixed. The FTSE 100 is higher by 0.33%, while the DAX is leading the CAC 40 lower. They are down 0.20% and 0.06% respectively.

U.S. stock futures were flat this morning after the S&P 500 snapped a four-day losing streak. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell by 25 points, or 0.08%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 0.06% and 0.18%, respectively.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Nikkei 225 gained 1.29%, while the Hang Seng led the Shanghai Composite lower. They fell 1.68% and 0.62% respectively.

Defiant Ukraine marks one year anniversary of Russian Conflict

Kyviv, Ukraine — Ukraine today marks the one year since Russia launched its punishing invasion, with leaders in Kyiv defiant against Moscow’s push to overpower their nation.

The full-scale attack, which started in the early hours of Feb. 24, 2022, violently ended decades of relative stability in Europe. Its ripple effects upended energy markets, increased global hunger and reinvigorated the NATO military alliance to face the Russian threat.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has framed the conflict as a morally charged battle between autocracy and freedom, pledging that Ukrainian forces will fight on with the help of billions of dollars’ worth of Western arms. Zelensky’s Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, likewise  of cementing Russian power over significant parts of Ukraine.

As each side gears up for fighting in the spring, there is little prospect that the bloodshed will end.

Here’s what to know

  • Ukrainian forces rebuffed Russia’s early attempt to conquer Kyiv and have since recaptured a host of towns and cities occupied by Moscow’s forces. But a year in, Russia controls about a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, including parts of the four regions Putin  in September 2022, as well as the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.
  • Zelensky is expected to address reporters Friday. The president has at times vowed to retake every inch of Ukrainian territory from Russia, but has also signalled that the war could end in a negotiated deal. It remains unclear what type of concessions he or Putin might accept as part of a settlement.
  • Ukraine remains a nation under severe economic strain as it funds a massive war effort and grapples with the effects of a massive civilian exodus, loss of key industrial assets to Russian occupation and ongoing infrastructure damage. Facing a $38 billion budget deficit, Zelenksy’s government is  which would add needed funds to earlier U.S. and European Union pledges for aid totalling $29 billion.

The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution calling for an end to the war and demanding that Russia leave Ukrainian territory. The majority — 141 countries — voted in favour of the resolution, while 32 countries, including Asian heavyweights China and India, abstained from voting.

Seven countries, including Russia, voted against the resolution. Mali — which on two previous occasions had abstained from voting on U.N. resolutions on Ukraine — shifted its position to vote against this week’s resolution, coming out in support of Russia.

St Helier to be twinned with Ukrainian city

St Helier is to be twinned with the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv following a meeting at the Town Hall on Wednesday night. A number of Islanders, including members of the Ukrainian community, gathered at the Town Hall last night where they voted unanimously in favour of the motion proposed by St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft.

He said that there were ‘a number of reasons in support of the twinning’ and stated that he had seen a ‘growing desire’ within the community to issue a show of support for war-torn Ukraine.

Mr Crowcroft added that there were also noticeable similarities between St Helier and Mykolaiv, with both located in the south of their respective jurisdictions and adding that they both have a zoo. ‘The Mayor of Mykolaiv and I have chatted over Zoom.

I would have gone out there but I’m not as brave as [US President] Joe Biden,’ added the St Helier Constable. Geraint Jennings, who since 2016 has been procureur du bien public for St Helier, stated that twinning projects developed after the Second World War.

“When twinning projects were developed, they were not only to recognize former enemies such as Bad Wurzach in Germany, but also to twin towns which had suffered…with ones which had been spared. I think adding to our portfolio of international friends adds a lot for us – we can do a lot for friends with twinning [projects].”

Speaking earlier this week, Mr Crowcroft said:

“Parishioners have shown such incredible support for those impacted by the devastating conflict in Ukraine and this twinning would symbolise our ongoing connection and commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine and, in particular, the residents of Mykolaiv.”

Mykolaiv is a major shipbuilding port in the south of the country, with a pre-war population of 470,000. It is also part of Ukraine’s agricultural region. The town’s digital sector was flourishing before the invasion and Mykolaiv has a range of educational and cultural institutions. Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine invasion.

Elizabeth Harbour redevelopment plans submitted

Plans for a major redevelopment of Elizabeth Harbour have been submitted by Ports of Jersey. The redevelopment, which includes changing the layout of the harbour to improve freight-handling capacity and replacing the terminal building, forms part of the wider St Helier Harbour Master Plan unveiled by Ports last year.

If approved it would see the ‘lift-on, lift-off’ freight operation moved from the New North Quay to co-locate with ‘roll-on roll-off’ trailered freight facilities at Elizabeth Harbour, while the terminal would be demolished and replaced with a new curved building in the north-west corner of the site.

Harbourmaster Bill Sadler said: ‘This is a significant milestone in our ambition to increase capacity, flexibility and resilience in our freight handling ability. It also proposes significant improvements to the passenger experience for those using the new terminal.

At the heart of the plans are sustainable design and construction methods which are aligned with our Ports, Planet and People Plan and the Government of Jersey’s Carbon Neutral Roadmap.’ The planning process is expected to take around six months.

Fruit and veg shortage which has seen UK retailers ration tomatoes and cucumbers reaches Jersey

The Co-op is suffering a shortage of some fruit and vegetables but has no plans to follow UK retailers and introduce rationing. Extreme weather in southern Europe and north Africa has severely affected harvests of produce, including tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

It is widely expected that the disruption will last for several weeks until the British growing season begins and the reliance on produce from Europe decreases.

Asda and Aldi are among retailers who are currently placing restrictions of three per person on tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries. But Mark Cox, Co-op chief executive, said that although supplies have been affected they have no plans to restrict sales.

“Like other supermarkets we are currently experiencing a shortage of some salad and vegetable produce lines,” he said.

“These shortages are due to a combination of issues including difficult weather conditions in southern Europe which have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetable lines, including tomatoes. We are actively working with our suppliers to find alternative sources where possible.”

“It is likely that there will be some shortages of product for several weeks until supply from growers locally is available. We have no intention of rationing products as seen in the UK.”

Mr Cox said: “We apologise for any inconvenience these shortages may cause. We would like to take this moment to thank our members and customers for their patience and understanding during this time.”

Waitrose said it was ‘monitoring the situation, but have no current plans to introduce restrictions/rationing’.

Growers and suppliers in Morocco have had to contend with exceptionally cold temperatures, heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries over the past three to four weeks, all of which have affected the volume of fruit reaching the British Isles.

Supplies from Britain’s other major winter source, Spain, have also been badly affected by weather. Production problems in Morocco began in January with unusually cold night-time temperatures that affected tomato ripening.

These were compounded by ferry cancellations due to bad weather, hitting lorry deliveries. Producers have also reported having to cut back on their use of greenhouses due to higher electricity prices.

Government gives updates on Haut du Mont explosion, L’Ecume tragedy and Grands Vaux floods

The government has provided updates on three recent major incidents: the sinking of the L’Ecume trawler, the Haut du Mont explosion and the Grands Vaux floods.

On Thursday 8 December, the L’Ecume II fishing trawler sank following a collision with Condor’s Commodore Goodwill freight ship off Jersey’s west coast.

Two bodies were recovered from the wreck and identified as crewmen Jervis Ramirez Baligat and Larry Simyunn from the Philippines, but the third person on board – skipper Michael ‘Mick’ Michieli – has not been found.

A maritime safety investigation was launched and is being progressed by the Maritime Standards department – part of Ports of Jersey – in conjunction with the Bahamas Maritime Authority (as the flag state of the Condor Commodore Goodwill) and the Philippines as an interested party.

The States police have also commenced an independent investigation – supported by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency – to establish any criminal culpability.

At yesterday’s briefing, senior civil servant Richard Corrigan confirmed that L’Ecume II would be raised from the seabed once specialist equipment had been secured.

“That decision has been made on a balance of both evidential gain and for humanitarian reasons,” he said, noting that a visual inspection of the vessel on land would help establish exactly what happened on the day of the incident.

“We still have a missing member of the ship’s company, the skipper Mr Michael Michieli. There remains a possibility that his body is trapped onboard the vessel.”

He explained that, in terms of the ongoing investigations, being able to demonstrate that there were three crew on board – and that they all lost their lives – would ultimately help ‘in any decision to bring charges and what those charges look like in due course.

“Instruction will be given to Ports of Jersey to commission specialist contractors to do this. It is not something that is within our immediate capabilities within government or within Ports – we will need to bring a specialist vessel and crew into the Island to deliver this particular aspect of the operation.”

He estimated that it would take ‘around six weeks’ to secure the right crew and equipment to raise the vessel. “Once they are on site they then need a weather window of around five days to be able to do that – they need favourable or benign conditions to conduct the operation safely.”

“The process will probably involve the deployment of a crane barge. That will then be used to assemble a cradle around L’Ecume II to bring the vessel to the surface. That will need to be secured by a dive team, hence the weather and tides being a major factor in the eventual operation,” Mr Corrigan added.

Tears, shouting matches and disruptive behaviour behind Scrutiny Panel breakdown

A private ministerial briefing descended into a ‘shouting match’, witnesses left briefings in tears and panel members failing to show tolerance led to a complete breakdown of a Scrutiny Panel, its chair has said.

Deputy Geoff Southern is facing the prospect of being removed as chair of the Health and Social Security panel amid a dispute over the conduct of his Scrutiny colleagues Deputies Barbara Ward and Andy Howell.

The veteran Scrutineer said that he had asked the two Deputies – first elected to the States Assembly last year – to resign from the panel owing to their conduct during hearings and following an official complaint about them made by Health Minister Karen Wilson.

Deputy Southern said that the relationship between the minister, her officers and the panel had ‘completely broken down’ and that ‘it is very difficult to build trust when that happens’.

He added that during a training session last August, a complaint was made from a training company about Deputy Ward’s ‘disruptive’ and ‘combative’ behaviour which had left the trainer in tears and that he had seen ‘two witnesses in tears’ after a private briefing ended with ‘those two Deputies engaged in a shouting match with the minister’.

However, Deputy Philip Bailhache, also a member of the panel, has defended Deputies Howell and Ward and brought the no-confidence motion ‘in view of the stance adopted’ by the panel chair.

In the motion, Deputy Bailhache said that the Health Minister had made three complaints against Deputy Ward relating to the revelation of information from a private meeting during a public Scrutiny hearing, allegedly relaying information to the panel that was received through her membership of the States Employment Board and persistently raising employment matters in relation to recruitment difficulties.

The allegation against Deputy Howell related to allegedly failing to act in a professional manner during a private meeting between the panel and senior Health Department figures.

The vote of no confidence added that Deputy Bailhache had asked Deputy Southern to resign from his position as chair but that the Reform Jersey Deputy had declined to do so. Deputy Southern said: ‘What I am talking about here is the threat to the efficient working of Scrutiny.

If that is put in danger, then that has got consequences for the government because we must, as an Assembly, have good relations between Scrutiny and ministers in order to have any clarity whatsoever.

“If I was to accept the behaviours displayed in a panel of mine, I think I would be moving towards the end of the panel. I can’t see a way of mending that trust without removing the two Deputies concerned from the frontline.”

Philip takes the view that just an apology is sufficient but, in my mind, an apology won’t change any-thing.’ He added that should Deputy Southern survive that the ‘likely outcome’ would be that he and Deputies Ward and Howell would all resign from the panel.

The no-confidence motion was counter-signed by Deputies Ward and Howell, as well as Deputy Tom Binet. It is due to be debated during next week’s States sitting.

Metal detectorists add depth to understanding history of Jersey

Finds from the metal-detecting community are helping Jersey Museum to better understand the Island’s history. The collection of objects, which are now on display at the museum, includes finds dating from between the 8th century and the 11th century, as well as a refurbished relic from the English Civil War.

Other finds include an 11th century Anglo-Scandinavian stirrup mount engraved with late Viking art depicting a pair of interlocking dragons, a series of 11th-century brooches originating from across northern Europe and likely traded at the end of the Viking Age, and an 8th to 9th century Frankish strap fitting with enamel decoration.

Jersey Heritage’s finds liaison officer Perry Mesney, who has been responsible for collecting and recording the treasures, said:

“It really changes the way we thought about Jersey’s history… We have so much more information about Jersey during this period… It’s really shot us forward.”

The 11th century was a turbulent time in British history, with Britain coming under the rule of Danish kings such as Canute as part of the North Sea Empire, and eventually falling prey to the Norman Conquest. As Mr Mesney said: “It’s all kicking off.”

He added: “Jersey was a lot more connected at the time than we thought. There was an assumption that Jersey was a backwater, with nothing really happening… I’m not saying we were the centre of the world, but we had some kind of involvement, there were people here.”

One of the other finds on display is a 17th century wheel-lock pistol, an extravagant item that would have been carried by an officer or wealthy person around the time of the English Civil War.

It was found by detectorists in 2017 around St Aubin’s Fort, and the suspicions are that it might have been dropped during a battle, or lost when the owner was climbing into a boat.

Mr Mesney said: “It was great for someone to report it as, if it didn’t get immediate attention, the iron would have just turned to dust.”

He said he was extremely thankful to all the people who reported their finds to him. “Without them we wouldn’t have any of this stuff. Without them it would be lost forever.”

World’s largest wooden sailing ship to visit Jersey

The world’s largest wooden sailing ship is expected to pay a visit to Jersey this year. Götheborg of Sweden is due to make an appearance at the Barclays Jersey Boat Show, which takes place between 29 April and 1 May.

It will be the first time the ship – which is a replica of an 18th century Swedish East India Company merchant vessel that sank off Gothenburg in 1745 – has visited the Island.

She will be moored alongside the Albert Pier during the show. Harbourmaster Bill Sadler said he was ‘delighted’ to welcome the ‘unique ship’ to the boat show.

The show regularly attracts more than 30,000 visitors, and Götheborg will undoubtedly be one of the main attractions.

“The ship will welcome visitors and provide a special opportunity to glimpse what life was like for an 18th century sailor,” said Mr Sadler. Götheborg expedition director Kristoffer Bennis said the boat’s crew were “looking forward to a great visit to the Channel Islands”.

The replica vessel was launched 20 years ago after a ten-year building project, and the Boat Show will be her third stopover on her 2023 European Tour.

The ship will arrive after sailing through the Straits of Gibraltar, along the Portuguese coast and across the Bay of Biscay. After stopping in Jersey, Götheborg is due to continue heading north towards her home port of Gothenburg.

Last year, the vessel made 13 stops in 11 countries across Europe. More than 60,000 people visited the ship during that time and 500 people served aboard her as deckhands.