“Insecurity and violence continue to weigh on the outlook” for many low-income countries, the World Bank said, while “more rapid increases in living costs risk further escalating social unrest.” Several studies have pointed to rising food prices as an important trigger for the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.

In Latin American and the Caribbean, growth is expected to slow to 2.5 percent from 6.7 percent last year. India’s total output is forecast to drop to 7.5 percent from 8.7 percent, while Japan’s is expected to remain flat at 1.7 percent.

The World Bank, founded in the shadow of World War II to help rebuild ravaged economies, provides financial support to low- and middle-income nations. It reiterated its familiar basket of remedies, which include limiting government spending, using interest rates to dampen inflation and avoiding trade restrictions, price controls and subsidies.

Managing to tame inflation without sending the economy into a tailspin is a difficult task no matter what the policy choices are — which is why the risks of stagflation are so high.

At the same time, the United States, the European Union and allies are struggling to isolate Russia, starving it of resources to wage war, without crippling their own economies. Many countries in Europe, including Germany and Hungary, are heavily dependent on either Russian oil or gas.

The string of disasters — the pandemic, droughts and war — is injecting a large dose of uncertainty and draining confidence.

Among its economic prescriptions, the World Bank underscored that leaders should make it a priority to use public spending to shield the most vulnerable people.

That protection includes blunting the impact of rising food and energy prices as well as ensuring that low-income countries have sufficient supplies of Covid vaccines. So far, only 14 percent of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated.

“Renewed outbreaks of Covid-19 remain a risk in all regions, particularly those with lower vaccination coverage,” the report said.

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Colombia discovers two historical shipwrecks in Caribbean

BOGOTA, June 6 (Reuters) – Colombian naval officials conducting underwater monitoring of the long-sunken San Jose galleon have discovered two other historical shipwrecks nearby, President Ivan Duque said on Monday.

The San Jose galleon, thought by historians to be carrying treasure that would be worth billions of dollars, sank in 1708 near Colombia’s Caribbean port of Cartagena.

Its potential recovery has been the subject of decades of litigation.

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A remotely operated vehicle reached 900 meters depth, Duque and naval officials said in a video statement, allowing new videos of the wreckage.

Artifacts found in the wreckage of Spanish galleon San Jose, Cartagena, Colombia are seen in this undated handout picture released by the Colombian Presidency to Reuters on June 6, 2022. Colombian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

The vehicle also discovered two other nearby wrecks – a colonial boat and a schooner thought to be from around the same period as Colombia’s war for independence from Spain, some 200 years ago.

“We now have two other discoveries in the same area, that show other options for archaeological exploration,” navy commander Admiral Gabriel Perez said. “So the work is just beginning.”

The images offer the best-yet view of the treasure that was aboard the San Jose – including gold ingots and coins, cannons made in Seville in 1655 and an intact Chinese dinner service.

Archaeologists from the navy and government are working to determine the origin of the plates based on inscriptions, the officials said.

“The idea is to recover it and to have sustainable financing mechanisms for future extractions,” President Ivan Duque said. “In this way we protect the treasure, the patrimony of the San Jose galleon.”

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Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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Sam Bankman-Fried, Crypto Billionaire, Wants Washington to Follow His Lead

Mr. Bankman-Fried spent much of Crypto Bahamas shuttling back and forth from his laptop to the convention stage. Even his mother, Barbara Fried, had trouble getting time alone with him: As she tried to catch his eye one afternoon, a blockchain bro in a polo shirt cornered Mr. Bankman-Fried, asking him to film a birthday message for a friend. A few minutes later, he was backstage, shaking hands with Tony Blair and making awkward small talk about Brexit.

Unlike some crypto conferences, the gathering in the Bahamas was an invitation-only affair, and it drew a high-rolling crowd. As a party favor, FTX’s guests were offered discounts at a private jet company. On the bus ride to a beachside party, one attendee talked up his crypto yacht collective — “the most exclusive club that’s the most inclusive once you’re in.”

In places like Puerto Rico, the arrival of crypto millionaires chasing tax breaks has sent housing prices skyrocketing, outraging longtime residents. But the political leadership of the Bahamas has welcomed FTX with open arms. Prime Minister Philip Davis began the first day of conference programming with an enthusiastic speech, declaring that crypto entrepreneurs are “better wired for innovation and change than most people on the planet.” Later, in an interview, Mr. Davis said he’d been pleasantly surprised when Mr. Bankman-Fried wore a suit to a meeting at his office. “We want you here,” Mr. Davis recalled telling him.

Mr. Bankman-Fried skipped most of the conference festivities, but he didn’t neglect his hosting duties. He had dinner with Mr. Blair and Mr. Clinton, and rarely turned down a selfie. He also made plenty of time for Mr. Scaramucci, the chairman of SALT, a corporate events organization that helped put on the conference.

SBF’s double act with the Mooch marked the end of Crypto Bahamas. Back in the green room, FTX staffers exchanged hugs and high fives. Mr. Bankman-Fried was scrolling on his phone. He stretched and ran his hands through his hair. Then he checked his watch. The comedy bit had taken about four minutes. “I’ve got a lot of emails to catch up on,” he said.

Outside, the convention center was emptying, as hundreds of crypto enthusiasts headed for the airport. It was the calm before the coming meltdown. To leave the resort, guests had to walk through the Baha Mar casino, the largest in the Caribbean, a brightly lit hall of flashing slot machines.

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After that disastrous royal tour, is the sun finally setting on the Commonwealth realms? | Moya Lothian-McLean

Just how long has the British monarchy been in crisis? This time – after “Megxit”, after Prince Andrew – it was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s disastrous trip to the Caribbean. What was supposed to be a “charm offensive”, drumming up enthusiasm in the year of the Queen’s platinum jubilee, ended up looking more like a long goodbye, with the headlines spotlighting anti-royal protests, failures to address legacies of slavery, and the news that Jamaica is planning to ditch the Queen as head of state.

It may well be time for the royal family to face up to the fact that the sun is setting on those final remnants of the empire that they once embodied – and not a moment too soon.

For Britons, it can be easy to forget that the Queen’s realm and territories stretch far beyond these isles. Out of the 54 “independent and equal nations” that make up the Commonwealth of Nations, 15 (including the UK) still count the Queen as their head of state. Becoming a republic doesn’t necessitate surrendering membership of the Commonwealth itself – it simply means a symbolic rejection of British rule. And with Barbados finally taking the leap last year, longstanding debates about republicanism have been reignited in the remaining realms.

The issue is just as hotly debated in the likes of Australia (54% of people there would support becoming a republic) as it is in Jamaica, but packing William and Kate off to the Caribbean has inevitably focused minds in that region. Though republican camps in the Caribbean have long cited the impact of colonialism and slavery on the contemporary fortunes of their countries, a new reckoning is afoot, against the backdrop of the global Black Lives Matter movement and renewed conversations about the legacy of empire. Thanks to the attention the royals command, the disintegration of British overseas rule is being documented in real time.

'This is not crown land': William and Kate cancel first Caribbean tour visit due to protests – video
‘This is not crown land’: William and Kate cancel first Caribbean tour visit due to protests – video

The signs weren’t looking good for William and Kate from the outset. The couple’s first official engagement, in Belize, was unceremoniously cancelled after protests from the Q’eqehi Maya people over a land dispute with a charity that William patronises. Heading to Jamaica, they were met with more demonstrations, this time calling on the royals to address the issue of reparations for the several hundred years they directly profited from the slave trade. Government officials backed up the sentiment, with Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, informing a solemn William and Kate that the country was “moving on’’ and wanted to be “independent”, seemingly following the example of Barbados. It’s no wonder the royals were gracing Sunday’s front pages in damage-limitation mode, with William offering a half-apology for the tour.

As ever, sometimes opening their mouths only makes things worse: in a speech given in Kingston last week, Prince William expressed “profound sorrow” for the transatlantic slave trade, but people were quick to point out that he stopped short of an apology or acknowledging the monarchy’s direct interests in slavery. At one point in history, enslaved Black Africans arriving in the Caribbean via the Royal African Company were branded with the initials “DY”, marking them as the property of the then Duke of York . Royal profiting from slavery continued apace – the future William IV even personally argued for the continuation of the trade in the House of Lords in 1799, a move that, according tohistorian Brooke Newman, helped “delay” abolition for a few more years but “misjudged the mood of the nation” – and damaged the reputation of the royal family as a result.

For the royals, the trip has been a sharp lesson in how people in the Commonwealth now perceive Britain and its institutions. As the Jamaican dancehall artist Beenie Man put it during an interview with ITV News: “We are just here, controlled by the British, ruled by the British law when you go in the court. It’s all about the Queen … but what are they doing for Jamaica? They’re not doing anything for us.” The Jamaican writer Ashley Rouen Brown summed up the grounds for resentment succinctly: Jamaicans, he wrote, are “currently the only citizens within the Commonwealth realm that require a visa to visit the land of their head of state”. Meanwhile, requests for financial reparations, in recognition of the impact centuries of plunder had on economic prospects, have been met with egregious responses, like David Cameron’s 2015 offer for Britain to finance a £25m prison to hold Jamaican “criminals” in lieu of compensation for slavery.

In Jamaica, republicanism has been part of the political conversation since the 1970s, and there is cross-party support for the move. But now, debate has been replaced by decision. Emancipation is in full swing. It’s no coincidence that it comes as the Queen – who “made the Commonwealth central to her life when she became monarch” – reaches the twilight of her reign. But nor can it be a coincidence that this is all happening after several years of governmental and monarchical misrule in London. The aftermath of the Windrush scandal still leaves a bitter taste. And, albeit on a different scale, it’s worth taking account of some more of Beenie Man’s words: “If Harry was coming, people would react different,” he said. “People are going to meet Harry.” In that sense, the royals really are the authors of their own misfortune.

‘The monarchy is a relic’: Protests in Jamaica over royal visit – video
‘The monarchy is a relic’: Protests in Jamaica over royal visit – video

But with or without the Sussexes, there is an air of historical inevitability to all this. So, what happens next? Ahead of Kate and William’s visit, the Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon said: “If Jamaica decided it did [want to become a republic], there would be a domino effect on the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean.”

His words may well be prescient. The royal couple flew into the Bahamas, the last leg of their tour, to be greeted by protests on the ground and opposition from the likes of the Bahamas National Reparations Committee. Belize has announced a constitutional review, and late last year leaders including the St Vincent premier were urging fellow Commonwealth realms to attain republican status. The wheels seem firmly set in motion, with the royals’ open-backed Land Rover left spinning in the sand.

This kind of reckoning with reality is long overdue, and, who knows, it may even be a long-term positive for Britain if it helps disabuse our political class of its globe-trotting, Empire 2.0 fantasies. At the very least, now is the time to admit that for many parts of the world, the benefits of sovereign British rule are most heavily felt by the home nation itself. Within our own borders, we may kid ourselves that the monarchy is still a glittering jewel in our crown. But for many people overseas who wish to escape the long shadow of empire and exploitation, the shine has well and truly rubbed off.

This article was amended on 28 March 2022 because in 1799, it was in the House of Lords that the future William IV argued for the continuation of the slave trade, not in the House of Commons as an earlier version said.

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How Roman Abramovich Used Shell Companies and Wall Street Ties to Invest in the U.S.

In July 2012, a shell company registered in the British Virgin Islands wired $20 million to an investment vehicle in the Cayman Islands that was controlled by a large American hedge fund firm.

The wire transfer was the culmination of months of work by a small army of handlers and enablers in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. It was a stealth operation intended, at least in part, to mask the source of the funds: Roman Abramovich.

For two decades, the Russian oligarch has relied on this circuitous investment strategy — deploying a string of shell companies, routing money through a small Austrian bank and tapping the connections of leading Wall Street firms — to quietly place billions of dollars with prominent U.S. hedge funds and private equity firms, according to people with knowledge of the transactions.

The key was that every lawyer, corporate director, hedge fund manager and investment adviser involved in the process could honestly say he or she wasn’t working directly for Mr. Abramovich. In some cases, participants weren’t even aware of whose money they were helping to manage.

asked Congress for more resources as it helps to oversee the Biden administration’s sanctions program along with a new Justice Department kleptocracy task force. And on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are pushing a bill, known as the Enablers Act, that would require investment advisers to identify and more carefully vet their customers.

Mr. Abramovich has an estimated fortune of $13 billion, derived in large part from his well-timed purchase of an oil company owned by the Russian government that he sold back to the state at a massive profit. This month, European and Canadian authorities imposed sanctions on him and froze his assets, which include the famed Chelsea Football Club in London. The United States has not placed sanctions on him.

a pair of luxury residences near Aspen, Colo. But he also invested large sums of money with financial institutions. His ties to Mr. Putin and the source of his wealth have long made him a controversial figure.

Many of Mr. Abramovich’s U.S. investments were facilitated by a small firm, Concord Management, which is led by Michael Matlin, according to people with knowledge of the transactions who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Mr. Matlin declined to comment beyond issuing a statement that described Concord as “a consulting firm that provides independent third-party research, due diligence and monitoring of investments.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Abramovich didn’t respond to emails and text messages requesting comment.

Concord, founded in 1999, didn’t directly manage any of Mr. Abramovich’s money. It acted more like an investment adviser and due diligence firm, making recommendations to the directors of shell companies in Caribbean tax havens about potential investments in marquee American investment firms, according to people briefed on the matter.

Paycheck Protection Program loan worth $265,000 during the pandemic. (Concord repaid the loan, a spokesman said.)

Concord’s secrecy made some on Wall Street wary.

In 2015 and 2016, investigators at State Street, a financial services firm, filed “suspicious activity reports” alerting the U.S. government to transactions that Concord arranged involving some of Mr. Abramovich’s Caribbean shell companies, BuzzFeed News reported. State Street declined to comment.

American financial institutions are required to file such reports to help the U.S. government combat money laundering and other financial crimes, though the reports are not themselves evidence of any wrongdoing having been committed.

But for the most part, American financiers had no inkling about — or interest in discovering — the source of the money that Concord was directing. As long as routine background checks didn’t turn up red flags, it was fine.

Paulson & Company, the hedge fund run by John Paulson, received investments from a company that Concord represented, according to a person with knowledge of the investment. Mr. Paulson said in an email that he had “no knowledge” of Concord’s investors.

Concord also steered tens of millions of dollars from two shell companies to Highland Capital, a Texas hedge fund. Highland hired a unit of JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, to ensure that the companies were legitimate and that the investments complied with anti-money-laundering rules, according to federal court records in an unrelated bankruptcy case.

“corporate governance services” to investment managers.

For $15,000 a year, plus other fees, HighWater would provide an employee to sit on the board of the financial vehicle that the fund manager was expected to launch to accept the wealthy family’s money, according to emails between the fund manager and a HighWater executive reviewed by The New York Times.

The fund manager also brought on Boris Onefater, who ran a small U.S. consulting firm, Constellation, as another board member. Mr. Onefater said in an interview that he couldn’t remember whose money the Cayman vehicle was managing. “You’re asking for ancient history,” he said. “I don’t recall Mr. Abramovich’s name coming up.”

The fund manager hired Mourant, an offshore law firm, to get the paperwork for the Cayman vehicle in order. The managing partner of Mourant did not respond to requests for comment.

He also hired GlobeOp Financial Services, which provides administration services to hedge funds, to ensure that the Cayman entity was complying with anti-money-laundering laws and wasn’t doing business with anyone who had been placed under U.S. government sanctions, according to a copy of the contract.

“We abide by all laws in all jurisdictions in which we do business,” said Emma Lowrey, a spokeswoman for SS&C Technologies, a financial technology company based in Windsor, Conn., that now owns GlobeOp.

John Lewis, a HighWater executive, said in an email to The Times that his firm received four referrals from Concord from 2011 to 2014 and hadn’t dealt with the firm since then.

“We were aware of no links to Russian money or Roman Abramovich,” Mr. Lewis said. He added that GlobeOp “did not identify anything unusual, high risk, or that there were any politically exposed persons with respect to any investors.”

The Cayman fund opened for business in July 2012 when $20 million arrived by wire transfer. The expectation was that tens of millions more would follow, although additional funds never showed up. The Cayman fund was run as an independent entity, using the same investment strategy — buying and selling exchange-traded funds — employed by the fund manager’s main U.S. hedge fund.

The $20 million was wired from an entity called Caythorpe Holdings, which was registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Documents accompanying the wire transfer showed that the money originated with Kathrein Privatbank in Vienna. It arrived in Grand Cayman after passing through another Austrian bank, Raiffeisen, and then JPMorgan. (JPMorgan was serving as a correspondent bank, essentially acting as an intermediary for banks with smaller international networks.)

A spokesman for Kathrein declined to comment. A spokeswoman for JPMorgan declined to comment. Representatives for Raiffeisen did not respond to requests for comment.

The fund manager noticed that some of the documentation was signed by a lawyer named Natalia Bychenkova. The Russian-sounding name led him to conclude that he was probably managing money for a Russian oligarch. But the fund manager wasn’t bothered, since GlobeOp had verified that Caythorpe was compliant with know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering rules and laws.

He didn’t know who controlled Caythorpe, and he didn’t ask.

In early 2014, after Russia invaded the Ukrainian region of Crimea, markets tanked. The fund manager made a bearish bet on the direction of the stock market, and his fund got crushed when stocks rallied.

The next year, Caythorpe withdrew its money from the Cayman fund. Caythorpe was liquidated in 2017.

The fund manager said he didn’t realize until this month that he had been investing money for Mr. Abramovich.

Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett contributed research. Maureen Farrell contributed reporting.

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U.S. should boost financing to Caribbean nations: Antigua PM

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne poses for photo in this undated handout picture distributed to Reuters on January 25, 2022. Government of Antigua and Barbuda/Handout via REUTERS

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MIAMI, Jan 26 (Reuters) – The United States should increase financing and aid to the Caribbean to help the region recover from the pandemic and cope with the growing impact of climate change, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in an interview.

Countries in the region are facing unsustainable debt loads often equivalent to 100% of gross domestic product (GDP), Browne said, adding that many have been relying on loans from China due to favorable terms offered by Chinese banks.

“I feel that the U.S. ought to pay more attention to the Caribbean region in helping us to maintain our standard of living to avoid any mass movement of people,” he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

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“If people are unable to live in (Caribbean) countries, then clearly they’ll end up on the shores of the United States as refugees.”

China has lent over $4 billion to Caribbean nations in the last 10 years, according to figures compiled by the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue, much of which has gone to finance infrastructure development.

The conditions of those loans are more favorable than even those provided by multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Browne said, adding that borrowing from Chinese banks should not be understood as a political statement.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Caribbean was disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the IMF, which last year said tourism-dependent countries in the region saw economies contract by 9.8% in 2020.

Many struggle to get aid because multilateral agencies tend to classify them as a middle- or high-income nations based on per-capita GDP measurements, which do not factor in the higher costs facing small island nations or their vulnerability to climate change.

Sustained U.S. support for changing those criteria would provide a significant boost for the Caribbean, Browne said.

“We expect the United States would use its influence in the multinational financial institutions to effect that change,” Browne said, adding he had not seen evidence that this was happening.

The vast majority of some $336 million in U.S. aid to members of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, goes to Haiti, with only around $70 million being distributed among 13 other countries, he said. The population of those countries is around 7.5 million.

“It’s just miniscule,” Browne said.

Antigua and Barbuda, a nation of two main islands and several smaller ones in the northeastern Caribbean, has, like other countries in the region, faced growing expenses associated with extreme weather events.

Hurricane Irma in 2017 ravaged Barbuda, leaving all buildings uninhabitable and forcing the evacuation of all residents for nearly 18 months. Reconstruction costs were in excess of $200 million.

Antigua and Barbuda bore most of those costs, but got only $169,000 in aid from the United States in 2019, Browne said.

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Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Miami; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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For third day, COVID-19 crimps Americans’ holiday travels

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Dec 26 (Reuters) – U.S. airlines canceled more than 1,300 flights on Sunday as COVID-19 thinned out the number of available crews, while several cruise ships had to cancel stops after outbreaks on board, upending the plans of thousands of Christmas travelers.

Commercial airlines had canceled 1,318 flights within, into or out of the United States by mid-afternoon, according to a tally on flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.

At least three cruise ships were also forced to return to port without making scheduled port calls after COVID-19 cases were detected on board, according to multiple media reports.

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It was the third straight day of pain for some Americans traveling over the weekend as the Christmas holidays, typically a peak time for travel, coincided with a rapid spread of the Omicron variant nationwide.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, warned of rising U.S. cases in coming days and potentially “overrun…hospitals, particularly in those regions in which you have a larger proportion of unvaccinated individuals.”

“It likely will go much higher,” he said of the Omicron-driven surge even as President Joe Biden last week unveiled new actions aimed at containing the latest wave and continued urging vaccinations and other prevention strategies.

With rising infections, airlines have been forced to cancel flights with pilots and cabin crew needing to quarantine while poor weather in some areas added to travelers woes.

Enjoli Rodriguez, 25, whose Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) flight from Los Angeles to Lexington, Kentucky, was canceled on Christmas Eve, was one of thousands still stranded on Sunday.

Delta rebooked Rodriguez through Detroit, but that flight was delayed so she missed the connection.

Speaking from the Detroit airport on Sunday, Rodriguez said she was surrounded by angry passengers, flustered airline representatives and families with young children in limbo.

“I’ve run into a lot of people sharing their horror stories here. We’re all just stuck in Michigan, Detroit, heading different places,” Rodriguez, who was rebooked on a later flight to Kentucky, told Reuters.

A total of 997 flights were scrapped on Christmas Day and nearly 700 on Christmas Eve. Thousands more were delayed on all three days.

A Delta Airlines spokesperson said “winter weather in portions of the U.S. and the Omicron variant continued to impact” its holiday weekend flight schedule but that it was working to “reroute and substitute aircraft and crews.”

United Airlines also said it was working to rebook impacted passengers, while a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said its cancellations were all weather related.

Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Queens, New York City, U.S., December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Overall, U.S. airports most heavily impacted were in Seattle, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and JFK International in New York.

A White House official, who asked not to be named, said the administration was monitoring the delays closely but noted that while they can disrupt plans “only a small percentage of flights are affected.”

Delta on Sunday canceled 167 flights or 6%; United canceled 115 flights or 5% and American canceled 83 flights or 2%, according to FlightAware.

Globally, 3,023 flights were called off and more than 13,742 were delayed, as of 8:15 p.m. EST on Sunday (0015 GMT Monday), FlightAware data showed.

COVID HITS CRUISES

Meanwhile, a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) cruise ship turned back to Ft. Lauderdale, CNN reported, and on Sunday a Carnival Corp (CCL.N) ship returned to Miami after COVID was detected onboard, although it was unclear if the cases were Omicron.

Carnival said “a small number on board were isolated due to a positive COVID test” on board its Carnival Freedom ship, which again left Miami later on Sunday for its next trip with another round of passengers.

“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant may shape how some destination authorities with limited medical resources may view even a small number of cases, even when they are being managed with our vigorous protocols. Should it be necessary to cancel a port, we will do our best to find an alternative destination,” it said in a statement.

A Holland America ship also returned to San Diego on Sunday after Mexican authorities banned it from docking in Puerto Vallarta citing onboard cases, NBC News and Fox News reported. Carnival, which owns Holland America, did not address that reported incident in its statement.

Representatives for Royal Caribbean did not respond to a request for comment.

Overall, COVID-19 outbreaks altered at least six sailings in the past week, the Washington Post reported, echoing the turmoil facing the industry after COVID erupted in early 2020.

Testing woes have compounded the travel angst, as many Americans scrambled for their status amid long lines and lack of at-home test kits amid the holiday travels.

“We’ve obviously got to do better. I mean, I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow,” Fauci told ABC’s “This Week.”

Meanwhile, some states are already bracing for the upcoming New Year’s holiday weekend, warning residents to reduce potential exposure to the virus.

“Omicron is surging statewide,” Louisiana’s health department tweeted on Sunday, noting Omicron-related hospitalizations had doubled in the past week. “We are urging everyone to take safety precautions ahead of New Year’s Eve.”

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Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Gabriella Borter; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh, Diane Bartz and Karen Brettell; additional writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kieran Murray, Daniel Wallis, Mark Porter and Diane Craft

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Expands Footprint in Latin America

LOS CABOS, Mexico–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, a global residential real estate brokerage franchise network, is pleased to announce its further expansion into Mexico welcoming Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties. The brokerage will be led by industry trailblazer, Ian Gengos.

Originally from Australia, Ian lived and worked throughout Canada and the Caribbean for years before choosing to settle in Los Cabos. A working vacation turned into a career change, a fresh outlook on life, and a focus on the things in it that mattered most. Ian’s experience and knowledge of the Baja California Sur area provide clients with a seamless experience from start to finish.

“We joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices due to the exceptional global network, support and tools they offer,” said Ian Gengos. “My team and I are thrilled to bring this value to home buyers and sellers in Los Cabos. There has been tremendous evolution and growth in the Los Cabos luxury property market, and I am just as excited now for my clients as I was for my own family years ago when I moved to this location.”

The real estate market in Cabo San Lucas is booming like never before, and there’s no sign of a slowdown anytime soon. The destination is a mainstay vacation home spot for buyers from California and Texas, and while sales have generally been strong over the years, they’ve exploded since the onset of the pandemic.

“Our global network is extremely proud to welcome Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties. We are excited for their future with the network and look forward to having a larger footprint in Mexico,” said Christy Budnick, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties agents will have access to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ active referral and relocation networks, and its “FOREVER Cloud” technology suite, a powerful source for lead generation, marketing support, social media, video production/distribution and more. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has aligned with best-in-class technology platforms to deliver world-class support to its network members far into the future.

The newly added brokerage will also have full access to the revolutionary Real Estate I.Q. System®. The system combines the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand, marketing resources and technology with continuing education, training, mentoring and consulting. The brand also provides global listing syndication, professional training and ongoing education and the exclusive Luxury Collection marketing program for premier listings. Its Prestige Magazine showcases network members’ premium listings with a strong lineup of feature stories covering topics that appeal to high-end real estate clients.

The brokerage celebrated its commencement with a ribbon-cutting on December 2, 2021, in the heart of the city at Plaza Mijares. During the event, Ian graciously welcomed the group and introduced an exceptional team of agents and shared the vision for the firm. Attendees included the agents, business partners, developers, board of tourism members and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices global leadership.

Gino Blefari, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, also welcomed the company to the network, “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Ian Gengos and his dynamic team of agents to our global network. We look forward to supporting them in their mission of opening additional offices throughout the region.”

To learn more visit: https://www.bhhs.com/los-cabos-properties-mx803

About Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties is built on a tradition of excellence and fueled by an elite team of talented agents committed to providing exceptional service. The company strives to passionately serve trusted clientele with integrity, dedication and expertise in the pursuit of their real estate dreams. The company’s mission is to guide our clients passionately to achieve their real estate goals every step of the way while building trusted relationships.

About Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is a global residential real estate brokerage franchise network with more than 50,000 real estate professionals and nearly 1,500 offices throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, India and The Bahamas. In 2020, the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices global network represented more than $138 billion in real estate sales volume. The network, among the few organizations entrusted to use the world-renowned Berkshire Hathaway name, brings to the real estate market a definitive mark of trust, integrity, stability, and longevity.

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PGT Innovations Completes Acquisition of Anlin Windows & Doors

VENICE, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PGT Innovations, Inc. (NYSE: PGTI), a national leader in premium windows and doors, including impact-resistant products and products designed to unify indoor/outdoor living spaces, today announced that it has completed its previously announced acquisition of Anlin Windows & Doors.

“This transaction supports our strategic framework for profitable growth by expanding our market presence in the high-growth West Coast region to complement the strong growth we continue to see in our Southeast region,” said Jeff Jackson, President and CEO of PGT Innovations. “Anlin is a top regional brand for vinyl replacement windows and doors and is a great fit with our existing Western Window Systems brand, which is a leading provider of aluminum products for the new home construction market. This acquisition allows us to better serve both markets with a broad product portfolio and expanded sales network.”

“Anlin will operate under PGT Innovations’ Western Business Unit, and I am very pleased that Anlin’s top leadership will remain with the company – with John Maloney, Anlin’s former CEO, in an advisory role and Mark Maloney assuming the role of Vice President and General Manager of the Anlin Windows & Doors brand,” added Jackson. “I’m confident that we will seamlessly and successfully integrate our products, processes, and culture. We’re excited about the future of the Anlin brand, and we’re thrilled to welcome Anlin’s 460-plus team members to our PGT Innovations family.”

“During the third quarter, we completed a private offering of 4.375% senior notes totaling $575 million aggregate principal due in 2029,” said Brad West, Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Financial Officer. “This new note provides a favorable long-term rate for our debt structure and lowers annual interest cost.”

“On a pro forma basis, as of the end of the second quarter, we had a trailing-twelve-month net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio of 3.3 times,” added West. “Consistent with our priority of maintaining a strong and flexible balance sheet, we anticipate that reducing leverage after acquisitions will remain a capital allocation priority.”

PGT Innovations plans to update its 2021 financial outlook and discuss the Company’s third quarter 2021 results on its conference call and webcast scheduled for Thursday, November 11, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. eastern time.

The purchase price at closing was approximately $113.5 million plus earnout payments of up to approximately $12.6 million in aggregate, subject to certain adjustments. The purchase price is subject to a post-closing true-up mechanism, which is expected to be determined within approximately ninety days.

Anlin generated approximately $106 million in sales during the trailing twelve months ending in July 2021, with a mid-teen adjusted EBITDA. PGT Innovations paid approximately 8.5x pre-synergies and expects the transaction to be accretive.

During the third quarter of 2021, PGT Innovations announced a private offering of $575 million of 4.375% senior notes due 2029. The Notes were offered to finance, together with any borrowings under the Company’s credit agreement, the purchase price of Anlin. The Company also used the proceeds to redeem in full $425 million 6.75% Senior Notes due 2026 and repay $54 million outstanding amount under the existing term loan credit facility.

On October 25, 2021, PGT Innovations borrowed $60 million under its term loan agreement, which was amended to provide borrowing up to $180 million, leaving undrawn revolver capacity of $74 million.

About PGT Innovations, Inc.

PGT Innovations manufactures and supplies premium windows and doors. Its highly engineered and technically advanced products can withstand some of the toughest weather conditions on earth and are revolutionizing the way people live by unifying indoor and outdoor living spaces. Headquartered in Venice, Fla., PGT Innovations’ national footprint includes 15 facilities and a multichannel distribution / dealer platform with more than 5,000 employees.

PGT Innovations creates value through deep customer relationships, understanding the unstated needs of the markets it serves, and a drive to develop category-defining products. PGT Innovations is also the nation’s largest manufacturer of impact-resistant windows and doors and holds the leadership position in its primary market. The PGT Innovations’ family of brands include CGI®, PGT® Custom Windows and Doors, WinDoor®, Western Window Systems, Eze-Breeze®, CGI Commercial, NewSouth Window Solutions and a 75 percent ownership stake in Eco Window Systems. The company’s brands, in their respective markets, are a preferred choice of architects, builders, and homeowners throughout North America and the Caribbean. Their high-quality products are available in custom and standard sizes with massive dimensions that allow for unlimited design possibilities in residential, multi-family, and commercial projects. For additional information, visit www.pgtinnovations.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements are statements other than historical fact, and include statements relating to the acquisition of Anlin (the “Anlin Acquisition”) and related financing. These “forward­ looking statements” involve risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, such as “may,” “expect,” “expectations,” “outlook,” “forecast,” “guidance,” “intend,” “believe,” “could,” “project,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “should” and similar terminology.

These risks and uncertainties include factors such as:

Statements in this press release that are forward-looking statements include, without limitation, our expectations regarding the expected Anlin Acquisition. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances after the date of this press release.

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