Famous Brands, the owner of brands such as Debonairs and Steers, has ambitious expansion plans for oil-rich African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and Angola.

Africa Brief: Business News from around Africa

Joint move on Adcock underlines shift at PIC

THE Public Investment Corpo­ration (PIC) and Bidvest Group yesterday said they were looking at a tie-up to give them joint con­trol of Adcock Ingram, under-lining a strategic shift in the PIC’s approach to investment.

If the deal goes through, Bid-vest will manage the ailing pharmaceuticals firm although the PIC will retain all of its rights as a 22.4% shareholder. It would be the third such tie-up for the PIC in five years.

CEO Daniel Matjila said the PIC would now conclude agree­ments with “strategic equity partners” that could manage companies in which it was invest­ed. The PIC has similar agree­ments with listed property firm Growth point, and cement producer Afrisam.

by MARK ALLIX and SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA, published in Business Day on 12/03/2015

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Barloworld transport launches new unit.

BARLOWORLD Transport has established a new division and extended its range of spe­cialised transport solutions with the launch of Barloworld Cranes.

Steve Ford, the chief execu­tive of Barloworld Logistics, which is part of the listed Bar­loworld distribution group, said yesterday Barloworld Cranes represented another step in Barloworld Logistics’ journey of investing in niche products and services to enable them to offer their clients more holistic supply chain solutions.

Barloworld Transport is part of Barloworld Logistics. “It is a natural fit to our business, specifically’ for clients needing to move abnor­mal cargo or engaging in spe­cialised projects,” he said.

Barloworld shares dropped 3.58 percent yesterday to close at R84.85. Earlier in the day, shares fell to R83.76, the stock’s lowest level since August 2013.

 by ROY COKAYNE, published in The Star Business Report on 12/03/2015

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Eskom rejects severance bids

POWER utility Eskom has rejected thousands of applications for its vol­untary severance pro­gramme, leaving many workers dissatisfied. Eskom said this week it had rejected 2,493 of the 2,800 applications.

It cited retention of critical skills and busi­ness continuity as rea­sons for the rejections, but organised labour said the criteria were not clear and there was insuf­ficient consultation.

 by KARL GERNETZKY, published in Business Day on 12/03/2015

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Glencore curbs iron projects

GLENCORE, the global mining and trading company, has slowed its iron projects to a crawl, taken large impairments against them and informally put them up for sale.

During a media call at the release of annual results earlier this month, Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg said the projects would not be developed at existing iron-ore prices, which have slumped to below $60 a tonne, from an average $135 a tonne in 2013 and $97 last year. The write-down meant its undeveloped iron-ore projects in Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and Mauritania were on Glen-core’s books at low values, and gave it the option to realise value from them in the future, Mr Glasenberg said.

by ALLAN SECCOMBE, published in Business Day on 12/03/2015

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American Tower shows interest

MTN Group, Africa’s largest wireless carrier, has received interest from American Tower for at least a part of the network of about 9 000 towers it is selling in South Africa, according to people familiar with the matter. The assets were valued at $1.5 billion (R18bn) to $2bn, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. MTN had been holding talks with potential buyers, though a deal was unlikely to happen before the end of the year, the people said.

MTN might decide to keep a part of the assets, they said. Tower sales help companies like MTN raise cash from their antenna properties by giving tower operators the ability to rent space on cell sites to other carriers. American Tower has been on a buying spree with three acquisitions announced in the past five months, including a deal in Nigeria.

Chris Maroleng, an MTN spokesman, and Matt Peterson, a spokesman for American Tower, declined to comment Shares of MTN advanced 0.9 percent to R220.64 at 147pm before closing 1.14 percent lower at R216.10 on the JSE yesterday. American Tower lost 2.1 percent to $94.57 in New York on Tuesday. In November, American Tower made a $1.05bn deal with Bharti Airtel for 4 800 towers in Nigeria. American Tower’s competi­tors in Africa include IHS Holding and Helios Towers Africa, which have also expanded through acquisitions. –Bloomberg.

 by Bloomberg, published in the Star Business Report on 12/03/2015

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State’s comments on Telkom stake wipes out share gains

TELKOM’S shares have dropped almost a fifth in a week after the government said it would not sell a stake in the fixed-line operator and MTN Group said it probably would not make an offer.

The stock fell four consecu­tive days through Monday, declining 18 percent and wiping out gains for the year, before trading unchanged on Tuesday. The shares rose 2.86 percent to R71.85 at the close on the JSE yesterday, valuing the company at R37 billion.

Telkom’s 14-day relative strength index fell to 34.9 on Monday and closed at the same level on Tuesday, the lowest since October 15 and near the 30 level that may indicate to some technical traders the decline was overdone.

 by Bloomberg, published in the Star Business Report on 12/03/2015

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David Okwara

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