Company news in brief

12 February 2019 | Business

Gushing profits for oil majors on crude price

The world's top energy companies booked enormous profits last year thanks to higher oil prices and keeping a tight lid on spending, even if that risked limiting their medium-term production capacity.

The five "supermajors" - US firms Chevron and ExxonMobil, Britain's BP, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell and Total of France - earned nearly US$80 billion in net profits last year.

They all boosted their bottom line, with some hitting levels not seen since a plunge in crude prices from their perch above US$100 per barrel in 2014.

Higher oil prices didn't hurt, of course, although the fourth quarter was marked by strong volatility.Overall, the price of Brent crude was US$71 per barrel last year, compared with US$54 in 2017.

The supermajors have also maintained the financial discipline - cost-cutting and reducing investments - that they adopted following the 2014 crash in crude prices. – Nampa/AFP

Mozambique NGOs call on Credit Suisse to write off debt

Several non-governmental organisations in Mozambique on Saturday called on Credit Suisse to write off debt their government contracted with the Swiss bank as part of a massive "hidden debt" scandal.

In a letter addressed to Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam seen by AFP, 21 civil society groups said the scandal over allegedly illegal loans totalling US$2 billion was "a direct result of fraudulent illegal collusion between Credit Suisse, contractors and Mozambican government officials".

The letter was co-signed by Graca Machel, a humanitarian activist and widow of Nelson Mandela.

The call came only days after Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi sacked deputy finance minister Isaltina Lucas who has been implicated in the widening scandal. AS national treasury director she signed guarantees in 2013 and 2014 for the loans to three state-owned security companies.

An independent audit has found that US$500 million of the loans, which were deliberately hidden from the country's parliament as well as international donors, was diverted and remains unaccounted for.

Seven suspects including Mozambicans and ex-Credit Suisse bankers are accused by the US of fraud, conspiracy to financial security fraud, conspiracy to launder money. – Nampa/AFP

Paris seeks US$14 million from Airbnb for illegal adverts

The City of Paris is suing Airbnb for publishing 1 000 illegal rentals adverts, which could cost the American rental website more than 12.5 million euros (US$14 million), the mayor of Paris told a newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

Under French law, home owners in Paris can rent out their places on short-term rental platforms for up to 120 days in a year. Advertisements must include a registration number to help ensure properties are not rented out for longer.

France passed a law in 2018 which makes companies such as Airbnb punishable by fines of 12 500 euros per illegal posting, a new provision Paris will use to challenge Airbnb in court, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Several cities around the world have expressed concerns that platforms such as Airbnb stand as unfair competitors to hotels and can turn some neighbourhoods into sterile, tourist-only zones.

A spokeswoman for Airbnb said it had implemented measures to help Paris users of its website comply with European rules, but added that the rules in Paris were "inefficient, disproportionate and in contravention of European rules". – Nampa/Reuters

Bags carry Hermes to record sales in 2018

French luxury group Hermes said its sales hit a record just shy of 6 billion euros in 2018 as demand for its iconic bags continues to grow in all parts of the world and particularly in China.

Hermes called the 7.5% increase over 2017 in "particularly healthy, being based mainly on volume" rather than currency effects, which in fact were a drag overall during the year.

The consolidated sales figure of 5.966 billion euros (US$6.76 billion) were slightly above the consensus of analyst estimates compiled by Factset and Bloomberg.

Hermes saw its strongest growth in China and South Asian countries with a 14% increase when measured in constant exchange rates.

The recent spike in global trade tensions doesn't seem to affecting Hermes, as sales jumped 10.1% in reported terms in the fourth quarter. – Nampa/AFP

Al Jazeera partners with Bloomberg

Qatar's Al Jazeera Media Network said yesterday it would partner with Bloomberg Media Distribution as part of a content license agreement to expand its global business news coverage.

Select Bloomberg content like digital video and charts will run on Al Jazeera's english-language digital properties, the company said. Al Jazeera's content will also be available to Bloomberg terminal subscribers.

The Associated Press and Bloomberg LP had in October announced a sales partnership in Europe, Middle East and Africa region and Asia to expand their media client base.

Bloomberg competes with Reuters, the news division of Thomson Reuters Corp, in supplying news to media outlets. – Nampa/Reuters

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