Company news in brief

12 August 2019 | Business

Standard Bank to look at W. Africa expansion

Africa's largest bank by assets, Standard Bank, is considering entering new markets - possibly via acquisitions - as its strategy to focus its resources on the continent continues to pay off.

In recent years, Standard Bank has been working to unwind a failed bid to become a global emerging markets lender, and has ruled out further cross-border expansion even in Africa.

However, CEO Sim Tshabalala said as that process nears completion it is well-positioned for expansion and was particularly interested in countries in the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

He declined to give a time frame for the potential move, which he had said earlier would have an emphasis on digital expansion.

The bank said on Thursday it would exercise an option to dispose of its 20% stake in the Industrial and Commercial Bank from its abandoned foray into global emerging markets. – Nampa/Reuters

MTN says divestment plan on track

MTN Group Ltd is on track to meet a divestment target set in March after raising US$140 million from asset sales that will slim down Africa's largest mobile phone operator and refocus it on high-growth markets.

MTN is reviewing a raft of investments under a three-year, R15 billion (US$996 million) divestment plan that includes shedding loss-making e-commerce assets and exiting countries where it has no prospect of reaching first or second place by market share.

In the first half through June it sold its shareholder loan in ATC Ghana to American Tower Corp for R900 million and its interests in investment fund Amadeus and booking website Travelstart for R1.2 billion.

It has cut its stake in newly-listed Jumia Technologies to 18.9% from 29.7% after the listing and is in the process of redeeming MTN Nigeria preference shares for US$315 million.

The South African firm's plan to dispose of its minority stake in Mascom Wireless Botswana for US$300 million should be concluded in the second half. – Nampa/Reuters

Glencore Zambian unit closes two mine shafts

Glencore's Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia has closed two shafts at its Nkana mine, the company said on Thursday, a move that an opposition leader said had led to 1 400 job losses.

A Mopani spokesman would not specify the number of workers affected, saying they were not employees of the company.

"The closure of the two uneconomic shafts was always part of our plans," Mopani said in a statement, adding that the move would allow it to channel funds towards the completion of other expansion projects.

Mopani said it had served notices of non-renewal of all contracts for development support services at the Mindola north and central shafts.

The president of the opposition Democratic Party, Harry Kalaba, said 1 400 mine contractors from the two shafts had been sent home on Thursday when they reported for work. – Nampa/Reuters

Barrick Gold plans to sell Tongon in Ivory Coast

Barrick Gold Corp is looking to sell its Tongon gold mine in the Ivory Coast and is working with Bank of Nova Scotia to identify buyers, Bloomberg said.

Barrick Gold plans to start a formal sale process in the near term for all or a part of its stake, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Tongon mine, located north of the Ivory Coast's port city of Abidjan, is expected to produce 250 000 ounces to 270 000 ounces of gold in 2019.

The company is also working with Scotiabank to sell its Massawa gold project in Senegal and plans to divest its Lumwana copper mine in Zambia, according to the report.

Lumwana is expected to produce 210 million pounds to 240 million pounds of copper in 2019, while Massawa feasibility project is being progressed toward a final development decision. – Nampa/Reuters

Uber loses US$5 billion, misses Wall Street targets

Uber Technologies Inc reported a record US$5.2 billion loss and revenue that fell short of Wall Street targets on Thursday as growth in its core ride-hailing business slowed, sending its shares down 6%.

The company said a price war in the United States was easing and that an important measure of profitability topped its target, but slowing revenue growth raised questions about Uber's ability to expand and fend off competition.

Uber's second-quarter net loss, widening from a loss of US$878 million a year earlier, included US$3.9 billion of stock-based compensation expenses related to its IPO earlier this year and nearly US$300 million in "driver appreciation" related to the stock sale.

Uber reported that revenue growth slowed to 14% to US$3.2 billion and fell short of the average analyst estimate of US$3.36 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. The company's core business, ride-hailing, grew revenue only 2% to US$2.3 billion. Food delivery Uber Eats grew 72% to US$595 million.

Uber said its monthly active users rose to 99 million globally, from 93 million at the end of the first quarter and 76 million a year earlier. – Nampa/Reuters

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