Company news in brief

31 January 2018 | Business

Anglo sells Eskom-tied coal assets

Anglo American on Monday announced the sale of the New Largo thermal coal project in South Africa for approximately US$71 million to a new majority black-owned-and-managed company, marking its exit from South African domestic coal.

Mining coal in South Africa is complicated by a dispute with the government and the industry over a new mining code and by turmoil at indebted power utility Eskom.

New Largo Coal Proprietary Limited is owned by Seriti Resources Proprietary Limited and Coalzar Proprietary Limited, two companies majority owned and controlled by historically disadvantaged South Africans.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close in the second half of 2018.

Petra Diamonds warns on profit

Petra Diamonds Ltd expects full-year core earnings to come in about 10% to 15% below consensus and cut its 2018 production forecast.

The company, which operates diamond mines in South Africa and Tanzania, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to be hit by the recent strengthening of the South African rand.

The profit warning comes after a three-week strike at its South Africa operations and the blocking of a consignment of diamonds in Tanzania that led the company to flag a possible breach of two of its debt covenants in October.

Petra, which had a net debt of about US$644.7 million as of Dec.31, said on Monday it started formal discussions with its lenders to evaluate the covenants. – Nampa/Reuters

Aspen to start review of infant milk formula unit

Aspen Pharmacare will review its infant milk formula business with options including a sale to a strategic partner, Africa's biggest generic drugmaker said.

The unit, which has factories in New Zealand, South Africa and Mexico, follows the approval by the China Food and Drug Administration's registration of the company's baby milk formula brand, Alula.

The business sells infant milk formula in the Asia-Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and has a growing presence in the Middle East and China.

Aspen has appointed Centerview Partners UK LLP as financial adviser to assist in the strategic review process. – Nampa/Reuters

Apple set to halve production target

Apple Inc has notified suppliers that it will halve its iPhone X production target for the first quarter to around 20 million units, Nikkei reported on Monday without citing a source.

The cut was prompted by slower-than-expected sales in the holiday shopping season in Europe, the United States and China.

The report added that Apple is expected to maintain a total production target of 30 million units for lower priced models such as the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 7. – Nampa/Reuters

Swatch ‘very positive’ on 2018

Swatch Group said it expected "very positive" growth in 2018 after net profit rose 28% in 2017, helped by an improvement in global demand for Swiss watches.

Sales rose 5.8% at constant exchange rates and 5.4% in Swiss francs, helped by a strong acceleration in the second half of the year.

Swatch said sales increased by 12.2% in the second half of 2017, and an even faster 14.9% rate in the fourth quarter. December was the second highest sales month in the company's history, it said.

It said it had seen "marked" growth in China, its biggest market, while Europe increased last year. Growth in North America also accelerated during 2017, Swatch said. – Nampa/Reuters