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Tunisian parliament approves prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle

TUNIS ( ) – The Tunisian parliament approved on Monday a cabinet reshuffle proposed by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed amid a political and economic crisis.

The approval is widely seen in Tunisia as a victory for Chahed over his political opponents, including his party Nidaa Tounes, who demanded that he step down because of his government’s failure to revive the economy.

Youssef Chahed named 10 new ministers last week in a cabinet reshuffle he hopes will inject fresh blood into his government.

Chahed named Jewish businessman Rene Trabelsi as minister of tourism in the Muslim Arab country, 上海夜网only the third member of the small minority of 2,000 Jews to enter a cabinet since Tunisia’s independence in 1956.

A former foreign minister under the former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Kamel Morjan, became minister in charge of the public service, Tunisia’s main employer.

Portfolios such as finance, foreign affairs and the interior ministries were unchanged.

Lawmakers voted to approve the reshuffle, giving Chahed support to push on with economic reforms asked by lenders.

“Since two years we were working under random shelling from friendly fire,” Chahed said in speech in the parliament.

“We have not found political support in the reforms and in the fight against corruption, this is no longer possible as we want clarity to move forward in reviving the economy and ending the political crisis,” he said.

The prime minister has been caught up in a dispute with the leader of the party, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who is also the president’s son, and has accused Chahed of failing to tackle high inflation, unemployment and other problems.

The party’s demands have been supported by the influential UGTT union, which has also opposed Chahed’s plans to overhaul loss-making public companies.

The political wrangling has alarmed donors which have kept Tunisia afloat with loans granted in exchange for a promise of reforms such as cutting a bloated public service.

“This reshuffle is a coup against the winning party in the 2014 elections … Chahed did not consult with Nidaa Tounes about this reshuffle”, Sofian Toubel, an official in Nidaa Tounes said.

Tunisia has been hailed for its democratic transition since 2011 but the North African country has been hit by economic crisis and militant attacks since then.

Starbucks’ China rival Luckin surges in market debut

( ) – Shares of Luckin Coffee Inc surged as much as 52.7% in their market debut on Friday, indicating strong investor demand for the self-declared challenger to Starbucks Corp in China.

The company raised around $561 million after pricing its offering at the top of the anticipated price range, giving it a market value of $4.2 billion, in the biggest U.S. float by a Chinese firm this year.

The IPO gives Luckin more firepower and exposure to fuel its ambitious plan of overtaking Starbucks in China this year as the largest coffee chain by number of outlets.

“For us, brand is very, very important. If you’re a listed company, particularly in the U.S., that will elevate your brand even further than what it is today. So (the IPO) helps us with branding,” Chief Financial Officer Reinout Schakel said in an interview at the Nasdaq.

The stock opened at $25, well above its IPO price of $17. By 12:35 p.m. EST, shares pared gains to trade up at around $21.34.

Luckin has 2,370 stores in China and plans to open 2,500 more this year to go past Seattle-based Starbucks, which has long dominated China’s coffee scene and has over 3,600 stores in the country.

Luckin’s expansion is in stark contrast to Starbucks, which opened its first China store in 1999 and has spent two decades reaching its current store count.

The coffee start-up’s customers can order coffee via an app, watch a livestream of their coffee being made, and have it delivered to their door in an average of 18 minutes.

Luckin’s innovation on how consumers enjoy a cup of coffee sets it apart, said Zephirin Group analyst Lenny Zephirin in a note. “We believe this will continue to support above-industry growth in the coming years.”

The company has also expanded outside coffee, allowing customers to buy food and other beverages such as grapefruit cheese jasmine tea and Sichuan cold noodles with pulled chicken via its app.

“People think we’re just coffee, but actually we’re more than coffee. We’re coffee but actually we want to use it as a connection … and cross-sell different types of products,” Schakel said.

However, Luckin’s expansion comes at the cost of an aggressive cash burn. It relies heavily on cheap delivery and big discounts as a key strategy to attract customers.

Since inception in June, 2017, the company has been in the red, with net loss to shareholders at $475.4 million and total revenue of $125.27 million last year. For the first three months of this year, it posted a net loss of $85.3 million.

Luckin warned it may incur losses in the future and said it was more focused on expansion than turning a profit.

The coffee chain was co-founded by Chief Executive Officer Qian Zhiya and backed by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd.

Other investors in the company include U.S.上海夜生活网 money manager BlackRock Inc and Chinese investment firms Centurium Capital and Joy Capital.

Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, CICC and Haitong International were the lead underwriters on the IPO.