Company news in brief

07 December 2018 | Business

Eskom wants state to take on billions of its debt

South Africa's struggling state-run power firm Eskom wants the government to take on R100 billion of its debt to shore up its balance sheet, Eskom Chairman Jabu Mabuza told the Business Day newspaper.

Cash-strapped Eskom, which supplies more than 90% of South Africa's electricity, is struggling to emerge from a financial crisis and has implemented power cuts over the past week because of coal shortages and poor plant performance.

Eskom executives are meeting investors on a roadshow to London and the United States this week. A financial market source in London told Reuters that Mabuza had spoken to investors on the roadshow about the idea of shifting R100 billion of Eskom's debt onto the government's balance sheet.

However, South Africa's finance ministry, which is at pains to trim the country's large budget deficit, said on Wednesday that it had not yet received the debt proposal.

"The government's policy stance on the funding of state-owned companies remains that such funding must be done in a deficit neutral manner," treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said. – Nampa/Reuters

Huawei CFO arrested in Canada

Canada has arrested Chinese telecoms giant Huawei's global chief financial officer in Vancouver, where she is facing extradition to the United States, Canada's department of justice said on Wednesday.

The arrest is related to violations of US sanctions, a person familiar with the matter said. Reuters was unable to determine the precise nature of the violations.

Sources told Reuters in April that US authorities have been probing Huawei, one of the world's largest makers of telecommunications network equipment, since at least 2016 for allegedly shipping US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of US export and sanctions laws.

Meng Wanzhou, who is one of the vice chairs on the company's board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on Dec. 1 and a court hearing has been set for today, a Canadian justice department spokesman said.

Huawei confirmed the arrest in a statement and said that it has been provided little information of the charges, adding that it was "not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng". – Nampa/Reuters

Clues in Marriott hack implicate China

Hackers behind a massive breach at hotel group Marriott International Inc left clues suggesting they were working for a Chinese government intelligence gathering operation, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Marriott said last week that a hack that began four years ago had exposed the records of up to 500 million customers in its Starwood hotels reservation system.

Private investigators looking into the breach have found hacking tools, techniques and procedures previously used in attacks attributed to Chinese hackers, said three sources who were not authorised to discuss the company's private probe into the attack.

That suggests that Chinese hackers may have been behind a campaign designed to collect information for use in Beijing's espionage efforts and not for financial gain, two of the sources said.

While China has emerged as the lead suspect in the case, the sources cautioned it was possible somebody else was behind the hack because other parties had access to the same hacking tools, some of which have previously been posted online. – Nampa/Reuters

Bloomberg could sell company

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg said he was likely to sell his financial data and news company Bloomberg LP if he runs for president, Business Insider reported, citing an interview he gave to a local radio station.

Bloomberg said he would either sell the company, or put it in a blind trust, but that at his age, 76, it makes more sense to sell it, according to the report.

"I think at my age, if selling it is possible, I would do that," Bloomberg reportedly said in the interview with Radio Iowa.

Bloomberg LP declined to comment.

Petrobras unveils plan to boost asset sales

Brazilian state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA plans to raise some US$26.9 billion via asset sales and partnerships by 2023 while boosting investments on the front edge of an anticipated production boom in Brazil.

Petrobras intends to make US$84.1 billion in investments from 2019 to 2023, above the US$74.5 billion forecast in its 2018 to 2022 plan, it said in a five-year investment programme unveiled on Wednesday morning.

The firm also moderately cut its oil production forecast, but still forecast production to increase by 10% next year, and then 5% every year through 2023.

Petrobras is trying to stay the course on efforts to reduce one of the heftiest debt loads among oil companies worldwide - US$88 billion in gross debt - through divestments and an investment focus on Brazil's coveted offshore pre-salt area.

In a call with investors, Petrobras CFO Rafael Grisolia said the company expects to attract partners for its refineries in the short term. – Nampa/Reuters

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