Company news in brief

10 January 2018 | Business

ECB sells Steinhoff's bond after scandal

The European Central Bank has sold its bonds of scandal-hit South African retailer Steinhoff, data showed on Monday, potentially suffering a loss of up to 55% on that investment.

Steinhoff, the owner of more than 40 multinational retail brands including Conforama, Mattress Firm and Poundland, revealed "accounting irregularity" last month along with the immediate departure of its chief executive.

Its latest bond was worth as little as 45 percent of the value at which it was issued late last July, when the ECB bought it as part of its stimulus programme. – Nampa/Reuters

BAT sees boost from US tax change

British American Tobacco said yesterday that new US tax rules would boost its earnings per share by 6% in 2018, all other things being equal, supporting its commitment to high-single digit earnings growth.

The maker of Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes said the changes would also result in a non-cash exceptional tax credit as a result of the revaluation of deferred tax balances arising from the acquisition of Reynolds American in 2017. – Nampa/Reuters

Alibaba founder will ‘seriously consider’ HK listing

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will "seriously consider" listing in Hong Kong, founder Jack Ma said, in response to an invitation from the financial hub's leader asking the company to consider doing so.

Ma made the comments at an event in Hong Kong on Monday, an Alibaba spokeswoman said. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a speech during the event that she hoped Alibaba would consider returning to Hong Kong to list.

"Daring to speak like this marks a strong commitment so we will definitely seriously consider the Hong Kong market," Ma said in response to Lam's speech.

The Alibaba spokeswoman said there were no further details available on what any Hong Kong listing plan could involve. – Nampa/Reuters

Ablynx rejects Novo Nordisk's biotech bid

Denmark's Novo Nordisk, the world's biggest insulin maker, went public with a 2.6 billion euro (US$3.1 billion) bid for Belgian biotech group Ablynx on Monday, seeking a new source of growth by bolstering its treatments for rare blood disorders.

Ablynx rejected Novo's latest takeover approach and analysts predict the Danish group, whose new chief executive is trying to expand by buying drugs developed by competitors, might face counterbidders and would need to raise its bid.

The Belgian group specialises in the research of novel drugs based on nano-bodies found in the immune systems of llamas and alpacas, for which it partners with several of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies.

Ablynx's shares have almost doubled in price in the past 12 months, buoyed by successful clinical trial data. – Nampa/Reuters

Nigeria's Union Bank boosts buffers

Nigeria's Union Bank has raised 49.7 billion naira (US$163 million) through a rights issued which it said was 120% subscribed.

Union Bank, set up 100-years ago, had said it planned to spend 80% of the funds to enhance its regulatory capital and boost working capital.

The bank, in which Atlas Mara Ltd, the African investment vehicle of former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, owns a 22.1% stake, planned to raise funds to also tap opportunities lending to agribusinesses.

Union Bank was a former unit of Barclays Bank. – Nampa/Reuters

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