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World’s Largest Cruise Ship Almost Ready To Set Sail

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A vessel that’s set to be the world’s biggest cruise ship has completed construction at a shipyard in Finland and has made its first foray into open water for sea trials ahead of likely delivery in October this year.

Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas is a mammoth 365 meters long (nearly 1,200 feet) and will weigh a projected 250,800 tonnes. For comparison, that’s like trying to keep two CN Towers afloat.

When it sets sail on Caribbean waters in January 2024, it will comfortably hold some 5,610 passengers and 2,350 crew. The boat’s piece de resistance will be the world’s largest waterpark at sea. Named Category 6, it’ll feature six record-breaking water slides, but guests who want a more leisurely experience can also relax in the boat’s seven pools and nine whirlpools.

It’s being built at Meyer Turku shipyard, one of Europe’s leading shipbuilders, in Turku, Finland. At an on-site press panel earlier this year, Royal Caribbean International president and chief executive Michael Bayley told media that the vessel was on track to join the Royal Caribbean fleet on October 26, ahead of its 2024 debut.

The current title holder of world’s largest cruise ship is another vessel in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Wonder of the Seas, which made its inaugural voyage just last year and is a slightly teensier 1,188 feet in length, with a mere 18 decks to explore.

Royal Caribbean International is pitching Icon of the Seas as the cruise line’s evolutionary peak, using the latest technology and building on 50 years of learnings through the company’s history.

“We are positioning it as the ultimate family vacation and when you step back and look at all the energy and time that has gone into creating this ship it is mind-blowing,” Bayley said.

The Icon completed its first set of sea trials on June 22, according to a Royal Caribbean statement.

“During her first set of sea trials, Icon of the Seas traveled hundreds of miles, during which the main engines, hull, brake systems, steering, noise, and vibration levels were all tested,” the statement said. “Everything was done on time as outlined in the schedule, despite her departure being delayed due to wind conditions.”

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Job Losses, Factory Closures Loom As Unsold Goods Pile Up — MAN

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AGAINST the backdrop of sustained pressure in the foreign exchange market and high cost of production, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN has indicated that inventory of unsold goods is escalating to levels now threatening the existence of companies operating in the production sector of the economy with attendant job losses.

Findings show that as of the weekend the foreign exchange market had recorded over 254 per cent plunge in the value of the naira since flotation of the currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2023.

Recall that the naira traded for N471 per dollar in the official I&E market on June 13, 2023 before the floatation of the currency, but exchanged for N1,665.50 to a dollar as at February 23, 2024 on the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), indicating a depreciation of more than 253.6 per cent over the eight-month period. The forex crisis is also stoking inflation, and coupled with high energy costs, purchasing power has continued plummet, stifling demand for goods.

Speaking on the impact of this development on the manufacturing sector, Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said: “There are reports that across the board, many warehouses and plants of many manufacturing firms are stockpiled with unsold goods manufactured last year. “The development is as a result of the devastating effects of the exchange rate crisis, inflation, fake and sub-standard goods, smuggling and other macro-economics challenges.”

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CBN Lifts Ban On BDCs, Introduces New Operational Mechanism

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In a major development aimed at financial stability and strengthening the naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to resume its weekly intervention in the country’s foreign exchange (FX) market through the Bureau de Change (BDC) operators.

In 2021, the central bank, in a bid to achieve its mandate of safeguarding the value of the local currency, ensuring financial system stability, and shoring up external reserves, announced the immediate discontinuance of foreign currency sales to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.

However, the resumed intervention, which would reportedly commence today for funding as well as Tuesday for collection, will see the apex bank inject FX into the subsector in a bid to rescue the naira from further depreciation against major currencies, particularly the US Dollar. The collection will be at designated CBN branches in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Awka, while details of the naira accounts to be credited for funding bidding will also be made available today.

CBN is also expected to publish the list of eligible BDCs to benefit from its funding using certain compliance criteria.National Executive Council of Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) hinted on the latest developments through a memo to its members over the weekend.

The association also warned members that it will no longer be business as usual under the new supervisory regime of the central bank, as any infringement or infraction would result in outright revocation of license and prosecution.

ABCON said through the association’s various engagements with the central bank, in conjunction with ABCON’s strategic partners, CBN had agreed to its request, under the bank’s supervision, to inject liquidity into the market through a weekly intervention beginning today.

CBN assured ABCON that the new circular on the Revised Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines to BDCs, which was introduced over the weekend, was only a draft exposure that required the association’s inputs before the release of the final guidelines by the apex bank.

To that effect, the letters of the guidelines were not cast in stone, the association’s leadership told its members, who had been worried over the sweeping reforms in the document, which, among other things, prescribed N2 billion and N500 million minimum capital for national and state BDCs, respectively.

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