Company news in brief

12 March 2019 | Business

Safran's shares fall after Ethiopian Airlines crash

Shares in French aerospace group Safran fell on Monday, which traders attributed to fallout from Sunday's crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 plane.

Safran is the plane's engine maker.

The plane was en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi when it crashed minutes after take-off, killing all 157 people on board and prompting the carrier to ground the rest of its fleet of the jets.

Safran shares fell 1.6%. – Nampa/Reuters

Shares in Aspen plunge on debt

Shares in Aspen Pharmacare lost almost a third of their value on Friday on concerns about ballooning debt at Africa's biggest drugmaker and delays in the sale of an infant formula business that would help bring borrowing down.

The South African firm, which lost about R19.5 billion of its market value, built up debt as it shifted from being a mainly generics business in a few countries into a multinational with specialist therapies, including for thrombosis.

Aspen's debt stood at R54 billion at the end of 2018, over six times more than in 2013 when it began buying everything from blood-clot treatment brands and a sterile plant from GlaxoSmithKline to anaesthetics rights from AstraZeneca and a factory in the Netherlands.

The stock dropped 29% to close at R100.66, bringing losses since September to 63%. Friday's fall was the stock's biggest daily slide in more two than decades.

Investors worried that a deal to sell Aspen's infant formula business, announced in September and worth 635 million euros (US$713 million), had yet to close. Aspen had said it would be completed in the first quarter. It is due to close in May. – Nampa/Reuters

BMW biggest US automotive exporter by value

Germany's automaker BMW AG said on Friday it was the biggest U.S. automotive exporter by value for the fifth consecutive year, with exports totalling over US$8.4 billion in 2018.

The company said it exported 234 689 units of its X model sport utility vehicles and coupes from its Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant during 2018.

BMW's US export report comes at a time when US president Donald Trump has threatened to saddle imported cars and auto parts with steep tariffs of up to 25%.

Automakers, however, warn that such tariff on imported cars and parts would add thousands of US dollars to vehicle costs and potentially devastate the US economy as auto companies cut jobs to maintain profits. – Nampa/Reuters

Rio Tinto talking to Apple on project

Rio Tinto is in talks to move into the next phase of an agreement with Apple, chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said on Friday, as the miner looks to transition its aluminium business to tap a low-carbon economy.

Last May, Rio and Alcoa announced a joint venture, backed by Apple, to commercialise by 2024 a process that emits oxygen and replaces all direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process for aluminium.

Bauxite is the raw material for aluminium, which is used in everything from beer cans to aeroplanes and is expected to gain greater use in a decarbonising economy as a lightweight alternative to steel. However, it is still one of the most carbon-intensive metals to produce.

Rio, which has pledged substantial decarbonisation by 2050, is reshaping its aluminium division longer term to focus on supply chain transparency and lowering emissions, Jacques said.

In a climate report last month, Rio said it produced 28.6 million tonnes of such emissions last year but that it was on track to beat a target of reducing its emissions intensity by 24% from 2008 levels by 2020. – Nampa/Reuters

Deutsche, Commerzbank rise on merger speculation

Markets welcomed the prospect of a merger between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank on Monday with shares in both lenders trading higher following reports that Germany's largest banks are exploring the feasibility of a merger.

Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper was the first to report on the early stage merger talks, and said Berlin politicians expect a decision in the coming weeks.

Deutsche Bank agreed to hold tentative talks with Commerzbank, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Saturday.

Deutsche and Commerzbank declined to comment on the prospects of a merger.

Proponents of a merger say that a tie-up would give a combined entity - which would have an equity market value of more than 24 billion euros (US$27 billion) based on Friday's closing share prices - a 20% share of the German retail banking market. – Nampa/Reuters

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