Company news in brief

12 June 2018 | Business

Vodacom to increase black ownership

South Africa's Vodacom Group said yesterday it will increase the stake held by black shareholders by up to 6.25% in a R17.5 billion black empowerment transaction.

Vodacom said current black shareholders in Vodacom South Africa and a newly formed staff scheme will exchange their current shareholding for a stake of between 5.8% and 6.25% in Vodacom Group.

The new YeboYethu empowerment structure would acquire a 6.25% shareholding in Vodacom Group based on an illustrative price of R152.50 per Vodacom Group share.

Under black economic empowerment rules, South African companies are encouraged to meet quotas on black ownership, employment and procurement as part of a drive to reverse decades of exclusion under apartheid.

Meeting government rules on black ownership makes a company more likely to qualify for government tenders. – Nampa/Reuters

SAA’s catering unit to cut jobs

South African Airways' (SAA) catering arm plans to lay off 118 workers, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) said, as the struggling airline implements a turnaround strategy to restore profitability.

NUMSA said it had received notice of the layoffs from the catering arm, called Air Chefs, and said it would oppose the planned job cuts.

SAA mapped out a turnaround strategy in March to make the struggling airline more competitive and cost-efficient after reporting a hefty annual loss.

SAA, which has not generated a profit since 2011, survives on state guarantees and is regularly cited by credit ratings agencies as a drain on the government purse. – Nampa/Reuters

Apple to make fewer new model iPhones

Apple Inc expects to ship 80 million new model iPhones this year, down 20% from what it had planned at the same time last year, Japanese financial daily Nikkei reported on Friday, citing industry sources.

The California-based firm has asked suppliers to make about 20% fewer components for the three new iPhones it plans to launch in the second half of 2018, compared to last year's plans for its iPhone X and iPhone 8 models, the paper reported.

The report added to concerns that consumer passion for new editions of the iconic smartphones may be cooling after years of scorching growth, sending shares in Apple and many of its major suppliers lower and weighing on global stock markets.

The company sold 217 million iPhones, including its older models, in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. It does not break down the figures by model and is still manufacturing large numbers of earlier versions of the phone.

Some analysts said they already expected Apple to sell fewer phones this year than last as global demand for phones tightens and competitors eat into its sales. The company sold 129.5 million iPhones in the past two quarters, little changed from the same period a year earlier. – Nampa/Reuters

Chevron moves Brazil chief to lead Venezuela

US oil producer Chevron Corp permanently assigned its Brazil country chief to run its Venezuelan operations, three sources said, after the months-long detention of two executives escalated tensions between the OPEC-member nation and foreign oil firms.

Javier La Rosa, who had been president of Chevron Brazil since 2016 according to his LinkedIn page, this month was named to replace the company's Venezuela general manager, Christopher Whatley, said the sources.

La Rosa's appointment comes after a tense showdown between foreign oil companies and the government in recent months as Venezuela's political and economic meltdown deepened.

Venezuelan authorities last week released the two executives jailed since April as part of an ongoing graft probe into the oil sector, which has spooked other foreign companies operating in partnership with state oil company PDVSA.

The arrests, related to the executives' refusal to sign a supply contract for furnace parts for a PDVSA joint venture, were made public after some oil-service companies pulled back from Venezuela, writing off billions of dollars in assets.

La Rosa is leaving Brazil just as Chevron begins to flex its muscle in Latin America's largest crude producer. In a consortium with Petrobras and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron clinched its first block in Brazil's coveted offshore pre-salt oil play on Thursday. – Nampa/Reuters

Glencore faces additional legal challenge

A Congolese-American businessman is seeking more than US$1 billion in a Congo court from two Glencore executives and their ex-partner in a copper and cobalt mine, saying they defrauded him when he relinquished his shares, a court document showed.

In a statement on Friday, Glencore denied Charles Brown's allegations, made in a summons in March, against Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg and senior executive Aristotelis Mistakidis. It said the company had had "no interactions whatsoever with Mr. Brown" and that his accusations are "vexatious and baseless".

Glencore said it understands that Brown sold his indirect shares in the Mutanda copper and cobalt mine in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo to Glencore's former partner on the project, the now-defunct Groupe Bazano, in 2004 and 2005. That was before Glencore purchased its initial stake in the mine in 2007. Glencore is now the sole owner of Mutanda.

Brown's claim says he sold it in 2012.

His suit is the latest legal headache in Congo for Glencore, which is also locked in disputes with state miner Gecamines over a copper and cobalt project and its former partner in Mutanda Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler. – Nampa/Reuters

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