Leveraging of Mobile Networks

Africa Brief: Business News from around the continent

Pepkor plans to double its presence in Nigeria by 2018

PEPKOR, the local clothing retailer bought by Steinhoff In­ternational for $5.7 billion (R68bn) in 2014, plans to double its presence in Nigeria with 10 store openings a year through to 2018.

The company opened its first outlet in Africa’s most pop­ulous country in 2012 and would have 31 stores by July, Deon Conradie, Pepkor Nige­ria’s general manager, said on April 27 in his office in Lagos.

The clothing and footwear chain planned to sustain that growth rate over the next three years, he said. ‘”Our prices are low and we cater for that middle-to-bottom market, which is the fastest growing,” Conradie said. “There’s a need for somebody to supply that market.”

Publication: THE STAR BUSINESS REPORT; Author: Yinka Ibukun

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Spotlight on cross-border trade with Swaziland

Illicit trafficking in smug­gled goods like medicines and tobacco continued to plague cross-border trade between South Africa and Swaziland, Thomas Moyane, Commis­sioner of the South African Revenue Service (Sars), said at a meeting with Swazi customs authorities last week.

Moyane also discussed meas­ures to counter money launder­ing with his Swazi counterpart, Dumisani Masilela, Commis­sioner General of the Swaziland Revenue Authority.

“The matter of dealing with the vexing questions of an illicit economy with attendant negative consequences deserves our two countries’ urgent attention.

“Let alone that these goods pose serious health challenges, they also rob the fiscus of its due. Accordingly, it is very im­portant that we work together to deprive life to this illicit economy,” said Moyane at a press conference.


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Region sells $9.2bn in Eurobonds

African corporations are the latest beneficiaries of the global hunt for yield. Companies in the world’s least-developed continent issued S2.8 billion (R33.7bn) of dollar-denominated debt in 2015, the best start to a year since 2011, as investors take their search for returns further afield amid dwindling gains elsewhere. Last year, sub-Saharan Africa’s sovereigns sold a record $9.2bn of Eurobonds. Interest in African debt is being driven partly by falling yields in other emerging markets, in turn spurred by record-low developed-nation interest rates. US Treasuries, the benchmark for dollar-denominated debt globally, offer investors 2.05 percent for 10 years. South Africa’s FirstRand Bank sold 5500m of five-year notes to yield 4336 percent on April 23,129 basis points more than similar-maturity debt from Turkiye Garanti Bankasi.

Publication: THE STAR BUSINESS REPORT; Author: Bloomberg

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BP declares force majeure

BP Has declared force majeure on oil output from Angola’s Saturno stream after a production problem earlier in the week, a company spokesman said on Friday, the second outage in two months. BP confirms that force majeure was declared on FPSO PSVM on April 30,” the company spokesman said. The production outage and force majeure at Saturno follows an earlier disruption in March. PSVM consists of the Plutao, Saturno, Venus and Marte fields.

Publication: THE STAR BUSINESS REPORT; Author: Reuters

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A May Day appeal to workers

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama on Friday appealed to workers not to make demands that could derail an International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance package in the runup to elections next year. The IMF last month approved a three-year $918 million (R11 billion) deal aimed at tackling Ghana’s wide public deficit, grow­ing public debt and high inflation. Mahama is expected to face a strong opposition challenge in a presidential election next year. The government overshot its 2012 budget deficit target by nearly 100 per­cent ahead of the last election, due in part to a larger-than-anticipated wage bill. The president said the success of the IMF programme depended on strict adherence to prescribed spending restrictions. “This will require sacrifices on our part,” Mahama told workers at a Labour Day rally in the capital Accra. Mahama said the first $114.8m tranche of the IMF package had already been disbursed.


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Barclays insurance enters Kenya and eyes Ghana

Barclays Africa Group said it now planned to expand its insur­ance business in Ghana after formally entering Kenya’s life insurance market.

The group expects Barclays Life Assurance Kenya to be a base to expand to East African countries such as Tanzania and Uganda, where it has banking operations.

“For us the key market was to first expand to Kenya and secondly to shift the attention to Ghana. That’s the next priority,” Willie Lategan, the CEO for wealth, management and insurance at Bar­clays Africa, said.


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Capitec looks solid for the long haul

When African Bank collapsed last year the res­ponse of investors in other unsecured lenders was fear. Capitec, in particular, saw its share price fall as some share­holders considered African Bank’s demise to be evidence that the business model was fatally flawed. Depositors and bond-holders also hesitated.

Six months later and those initial fears have been proved profoundly wrong. Capitec has rapidly moved into the space left by African Bank and has never looked stronger. The share price reflects that after a dip last August when its rival was placed under curatorship, it has rallied strongly, up 165% over the last six months, trouncing every other counter on the JSE.

African Bank is still open for business but its appetite for riskier loans has waned and the volumes it is lending have fallen sharply. The bigger banks have also taken a step back from un­secured lending. After moving into the space aggressively for a few years, they started back­tracking in early 2013 when loan performance came short of what their models had predicted.

Publication: BUSINESS DAY; Author: Stuart Theobald

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Eskom getting tough on freeloaders

Eskom has piled pressure on municipalities, who owe it more than R9 billion, to pay their debt or face a possibility of massive power cuts this winter. It has warned Soweto residents that they are next on its list.

Soweto, the country’s largest township with an esti­mated population of more than five million people, owes Es­kom more than R4bn alone.

Eskom spokesman, Khulu Phasiwe, said only 180 000 Soweto households were sup­plied directly by Eskom, while the rest were serviced by the City of Johannesburg metro­politan council.

Publication: THE STAR BUSINESS REPORT; Author: Sechaba ka’Nkosi

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David Okwara

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