Evening Update Wednesday 13th April 2022

France has seized more than €23 billion worth of Russian assets since the invasion of Ukraine began - including several luxury villas on the Riviera belonging to Russian oligarchs. That's according to updated figures revealed by the French minister for the economy, Bruno Le Maire. A taskforce was set up to identify Russian assets in France, as part of the sanctions adopted by the European Council. Some French bank accounts belonging to Russian oligarchs have been blocked, to the tune of €180 million. 41 properties have been seized around France. More than half of them are here on the Côte d'Azur - in Saint-Tropez and Le Lavandou in the Var, and in Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Nice and the Cap d'Antibes in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Nice's gourmet food hall in the former Gare du Sud has been allowed to reopen, two weeks after it was shut down for hygiene breaches. The venue has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, after levels of bacteria above the legal limits were found. A new visit to the venue by inspectors found hygiene norms were being respected. Located in the former terminus of the Train des Pignes, next to Libération market, the food hall has had a difficult few years. It opened in 2019 with 30 vendors. Now there are just five left. The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, is reportedly keen to see a change of management. The building's owner is also taking the operator to court next month, claiming unpaid rent.

A significant number of restaurants and bars on the Côte d'Azur have chosen to ignore a new ban on outdoor terrace heaters, which came into force on 1st April. Several cafe owners say they have no choice if they want to keep customers sitting outside after sunset. An exemption applies to covered terraces with fixed walls, which are well-insulated. Restaurateurs are currently benefiting from a grace period. No venues will be sanctioned for their outdoor heating until the end of May - by which time evening temperatures will be higher. But from next winter, offenders risk a fine of €1,500 - which is doubled if it's a repeat offence.

A team of volunteer firefighters from the Riviera has successfully delivered 60 tonnes of donated items to Ukraine's border with Poland. The Grasse Firefighters Humanitarian Aid Association had collected non-perishable food, clothes, baby and hygiene products from donors all over the region. A local haulage firm offered a 20-tonne truck and provided two drivers to join the convoy, which covered more than 5,000 kilometres in six days. Cash donations were also appreciated, with the soaring cost of petrol along the route. Grasse hospital also donated medical equipment and furniture that it no longer needed following a recent upgrade. Another trip is now being planned.

And a video doing the rounds on social media shows the moment when a group of young people came to the rescue of municipal police officers in Marseille whose patrol car collided with a tram and overturned. The car was travelling at high speed in response to an emergency call for reinforcements, when it hit the tram head-on near Blancarde station in Marseille's fifth arrondissement. A group of passers-by rushed to get the vehicle back on its wheels and extract the officers from the car. None of the officers was injured. A police spokesman praised the witnesses' quick actions, describing it as "a great lesson in civic-mindedness".

BUSINESS

A major producer of Apple's iPhone has become the latest manufacturer to halt operations because of the lockdown in Shanghai. Technology company Pegatron says it has temporarily suspended production at two of its factories in China. The announcement came even as authorities eased some of Shanghai's coronavirus regulations on Tuesday. It means that some of the city's 25 million people are able to leave their homes for the first time in weeks. The city was locked down in late March after infections surged in the key manufacturing and financial hub.

Another P&O Ferries vessel has been detained - casting doubt on its Dover operations resuming before Easter. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said inspectors had found a "number of deficiencies". The Spirit of Britain ship, which normally serves the Dover to Calais route, cannot set sail until the issues have been addressed. P&O said it looked forward to welcoming customers again as soon as all mandatory safety tests had been passed. The firm has faced criticism after recently sacking 800 staff without notice. P&O's Dover-Calais routes are currently suspended and the company has said it will not resume services on the route before Friday at the earliest. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been making its way through inspections of eight P&O Ferries to ensure they are fit to sail.

And Air France has announced it aims to cut its CO2 emissions by 12% by 2030. The French national airline said it would invest in a more environmentally friendly fleet of planes for its medium and long-haul flights, and increasingly rely on sustainable fuels. Air France says it has already reduced net emissions by 6% since 2005, despite a 30% increase in traffic over that period.

SPORT

F1 - The Automobile Club of Monaco has responded to ongoing speculation in some media that the future of the principality's Formula 1 Grand Prix might be under threat. The contract linking Monaco with Liberty Media, the owner of the Formula 1 world championship, is up for renewal this year - as is also the case with France and Belgium. The club's president, Michel Boéri, says that while discussions with Liberty Media are still ongoing, he is certain the Monaco race will continue. The deal has yet to be signed and the length of the renewal is not yet defined.

Football - Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is on the brink of being confirmed as Manchester United's new manager. United say no deal has been done but sources in the Netherlands suggest an agreement in principle is in place. The Dutchman, 52, will replace Ralf Rangnick, who was appointed interim manager in November. Official confirmation of Ten Hag's appointment is not expected before Ajax's Dutch Cup final against PSV Eindhoven on Sunday.

Cricket - Andrew McDonald has been appointed head coach of Australia's men's team. McDonald, who has been part of Australia's coaching team since 2019, has signed a four-year contract with Cricket Australia. The former Test all-rounder replaces Justin Langer, who left the role in February after rejecting a short-term contract extension.

Tennis - So the big upset at yesterday's Monte-Carlo Masters was world number one Novak Djokovic losing his first match to the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and failing to qualify for the next round. It was Djokovic’s first match since his quarter-final defeat at Dubai in February and the top seed was given little room to find his feet by his tenacious opponent at the Monte Carlo Country Club. After not being able to play in Melbourne, the world number one had been expecting a tough match. Djokovic said he was "hanging on the ropes the entire match" and constantly playing chase. 

Wednesday's play at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will whittle the men's singles draw down to the last 16, with a star-studded lineup on the red clay courts in Monaco. Earlier today, Serbia's Laslo Djere made it through to the next round after beating Italy's Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-4. Spain's Alberto Ramos-Vinolas defeated Brit Cameron Norrie 6-4 2-6 6-4. And the US's Sebastian Korda has earned the biggest win of his season with a win against Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz 7-6 6-7 6-3 to reach the third round. World No. 11 Alcaraz arrived in Monte Carlo in red-hot form, having captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Miami. However the 18-year-old, who was making his debut at the clay-court event, was unable to cope with Korda’s heavy-hitting, variety and depth of shot in windy conditions on Court Rainier III.

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