Africa, Carrefour, Eurobond, Ghana, Government, Invesments, Ivory Coast, Kenya, London, Nigeria, Oil, Russia, South Africa, Tullow, UK, Uncategorized, United States, US, Zimbabwe

Africa Focused News

by Dario Galluccio

South Africa: Mutual & Federal acquires insurance book of Agricola

Short- term insurer, Mutual & Federal (M&F), has bought the insurance book of Agricola, South Africa’s crop underwriting administrator, for an undisclosed sum. Following the transaction, M&F will be positioned among the three top sources of short-terminsurance for South African agriculturalists. This move is part of the company’s strategy to turn around the struggling company which was de-listed a couple of years back.

Raimund Snyders, the CEO of M&F, described results for the six months to June this year as disappointing. And this has been recurring in the past couple of years. As a result, the company lost its top spot as South Africa’s biggest short-term under writer a couple of years back. Jaco van der Sandt, the finance director at M&F, told the company’s return on equity (ROE) was a little more than 4 percent during the period under review.

M&F plans to “leverage” its association with parent company, Old Mutual, Africa’s biggest life insurer to improve profits in the short term.

Ghana: Carrefour CEO follows stock surge with African expansion

Pent-up demand from African shoppers has lured Carrefour SA to enter the region of a billion people set to grow at three times the pace of the U.S. next year. The Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based retailer, which spent much of the past two years exiting markets it failed to dominate, has partnered with distributor CFAO SA to open shops in eight African countries by 2015.

After the boom and eventual bust of the past three decades of retail growth (Carrefour had to pay 220 million euros ($294 million) to get out of Greece alone last year) Chief Executive Officer Georges Plassat chose a safer route for Africa by partnering with CFAO, a distributor and the continent’s biggest supplier of cars, trucks and pharmaceuticals. With the venture, he’s hoping to avoid the roadblocks competitors including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have faced expanding beyond South Africa: a lack of distribution and available real estate.

Ghana: Jubilee partners export almost 19 million barrels of crude for half year

Oil firms operating on the jubilee field have exported almost 19 million barrels of crude Oil from January to June this year. The country’s share of these exports was however almost 2 million barrels.

Ghana also earned 391 million dollars in terms of taxes and royalties from its share of the crude exports.

The report also revealed that the price at which Ghana sold each barrel of crude declined in the second quarter compared to the first quarter.

The country on the average earned 98 dollars for each barrel sold in the second quarter, down from the 108 dollars secured in the first quarter of 2013.

Ghana: Government receives Eurobond proceeds

The government has received proceeds from the $1 billion Eurobond to facilitate the speedy implementation of projects and programmes under the 2013 budget.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Terkper, said the $102 million (GH¢204 million) allocated for counterpart funding would facilitate the disbursement for committed funds from the development partners for the implementation of existing projects.

The counterpart funding projects include the Afram Plains Irrigation Project; rice projects in the northern and southern parts of the country; rural electrification project – Self Help Electrification Project (SHEP 4) as well as the completion of the Bui Dam. Major road networks which are at various stages of completion will also attract part of the counterpart funding.

The minister said $307 million (GH¢614 million) had been earmarked for new projects in the 2013 budget, $250 million to refinance the 2007 bond while $341 million (GH¢682 million) for refinancing maturing domestic debts.

Nigeria: Dangote promises more investment

The president and CEO of pan-African conglomerate, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has promised to invest and create more jobs opportunities in Nigeria. Dangote, who recently ventured into Nigeria’s petrochemical and agricultural sub-sector stated that the nation’s economy rests more on the shoulders of the private sector, and if more Nigerians were economically empowered through gainful employment, the poverty level would be reduced to a minimal level.

While speaking to a business group, the Africa’s richest man, Dangote said his venture into the petrochemical and agricultural sub-sector was his personal contribution towards reducing unemployment in the country.

Expressing optimism on Nigeria’s economic revival through the private sector, Alhaji Dangote reinstated: “I have always said that Nigeria is a good place to invest. We have all in abundance. God has blessed this country. What we have naturally in abundance is what other countries are looking for to buy. Good enough, Nigeria has the resources and the market for any company to survive, only in few other areas government should intensify efforts to ensure to make the sector attractive to investors”.

Nigeria: Britain will strengthen investments in Nigeria

The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Peter Carter, said Britain would strengthen its existing investments in the country. Speaking during his visit to Guinness Nigeria Plc’s factory in Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos State, Carter called for closer business relationship between Nigeria and Britain.

While receiving the envoy, Mr. Babatunde Savage, Chairman, Guinness Nigeria Plc, highlighted that “Guinness is the biggest UK-parented Nigerian company quoted on the Stock Exchange, in terms of capitalization, turnover and profits and we are indeed very proud of our British heritage.”

The British Deputy High Commissioner commended Guinness Nigeria for sustaining the legacy of the parent company, Diageo by providing consumers in Nigeria with the quality and premium brands the company is known for worldwide. Guinness Nigeria Plc was established in 1950 and got listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1965. The company built its first brewery in Ikeja in 1962, and currently has facilities in Ogba, Benin City and Aba.

Ghana: GCB interest income rises by 41.5%

The interest income of the GCB Bank Limited rose from GH¢150.29 million in the first half of 2012 to GH¢256.76 million in the first half of this year, its half year results released last week showed. This represented a 41.5 per cent growth in the bank’s interest income over the six month period.

It further showed that net profit for the period increased to GH¢90.43 million compared to GH¢50.21 million recorded in period before.

Ghana: GOIL makes positive gains in first half

The half year results of Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL) released late July showed that the company made positive gains in the six-month period. GOIL, which markets refined petroleum products to players in the aviation, mining and transport sectors, recorded a pre-tax profit of GH¢8.16 million in the first half of 2013 compared to GH¢7.07 million posted in the same period last year. After a tax deduction of GH¢2.04 million, GOIL’s net profit closed the period at GH¢6.12 million, higher than the 2012 first half figure of GH¢5.30 million.

These positive showings were influenced by a 20 per cent rise in the company’s gross revenues for the six-month period. Its revenues rose from GH¢374.102 million in the first half of last year to GH¢472.96 million in the period under review.

Zimbabwe: Russian firms target Darwendale platinum

A consortium of companies including Russia’s Rostec and Vneshekonombank is buying a 40% stake in a project to develop one of the world’s largest platinum fields in Zimbabwe. The companies will invest in Ruschrome Mining, a Russian-African joint venture licensed to mine the field.

The parties hope to exploit the Darwendale platinum project’s 19 tons in proven reserves and 775 total tons of metals including palladium, gold, nickel and copper.

Ruschrome is partly owned by the Zimbabwean government and the Centre of Business Cooperation with Foreign Countries, an association of machinery and defence firms that will retain a ten per cent stake in the project.

Africa: AngloGold posts loss, suspends dividend payment

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd, the third-largest producer of gold, posted a loss in the second quarter and suspended its dividend after bullion suffered a record three-month drop. Its shares slid to a 12-year low.

The Johannesburg-based company, with 21 operations in 10 countries, is cutting jobs, capital expenditure, exploration and slowing production at higher-cost mines as it adjusts to a gold price down 24 per cent this year. The company, which plans to begin mining gold at two low-cost mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Australia this year, suspended its dividend to conserve cash.

“There are going to be two more tough quarters in 2013 as we make these changes, but going into 2014 we will see the full benefit of the two new projects and the cost savings come through,” Chief Executive Officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said today on a call with reporters.

AngloGold plans to trim its all-in costs to $1,200 an ounce this year and $1,000 in 2014, said Venkatakrishnan.

AngloGold suspended its dividend, taking a “sensible and cautious approach” given the drop in prices and pressures on the company, Venkatakrishnan said in a separate interview.

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