Company news in brief

13 May 2020 | Business

Sibanye Q1 earnings surge

Platinum producer Sibanye Stillwater yesterday posted a sharp rise in first quarter core earnings, benefiting from higher metal prices and robust output from its South Africa and US operations.

The company, which is the world's largest producer of the metal, also said its South African operations were ramping up as planned following partial easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the country in April 2020.

The miner cut its full-year forecast for capital expenditure by about US$60 million for its platinum group metals (PGM) business and by R840 million for its South African PGM operations after a review of non-essential capital costs amid the coronavirus crisis.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation rose to R11.13 billion for the quarter ended March 31 from R808 million a year earlier.

“Precious metals prices remained buoyant during Q1 2020, with palladium and rhodium prices reaching record levels, before falling in late March 2020 as rising concerns about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said.

Sibanye last month withdrew its operating forecast for 2020 due to coronavirus-related uncertainties.– Nampa/Reuters

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Vodacom reports jump in ­earnings

South African mobile operator Vodacom Group reported an 8.9% rise in annual

earnings on Monday and postponed issuing medium-term forecasts due to the uncertain economic outlook as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to unfold.

“The past year has been characterised by strong customer growth - we now connect 116 million customers across the group, including Safaricom - and the benefits of prudent portfolio diversification,” group chief executive Shameel Joosub said in a statement.

Outside of South Africa, its international operations continued to show strong growth, with an additional 4 million customers and increased demand for data and financial services under mobile money platform M-Pesa contributing to a 12.5% increase in service revenue.

This led to group revenue rising by 4.8% to R90.7 billion, with group service revenue up 5%.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS), the main profit measure in South Africa, rose to 945 cents from 868 cents a year earlier.

Vodacom, which is majority owned by Vodafone, declared a final dividend of 405 cents per share. – Nampa/Reuters

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SAA rescue team to appeal court ruling

Administrators trying save South African Airways (SAA) will appeal a court ruling that ordered them to halt a layoff process, one of the administrators Siviwe Dongwana told Reuters.

The Labour Court's decision to side with two trade unions in its judgment on Friday was a major blow to the administrators as they have said that layoffs are necessary to avoid the airline being liquidated.

The court ruled that it was “procedurally unfair” for administrators Dongwana and Les Matuson to issue notices to workers about consultations on layoffs without having first presented a business rescue plan.

Dongwana and Matuson have until the end of the month to draft a rescue plan for SAA, which has not made a profit since 2011 and has received bailouts worth more than R20 billion over the past three years.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan wants SAA to be restructured into a new airline and has asked unions to share their views on how that might be achieved.

– Nampa/Reuters

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Mozambique seeks to close SOEs

Mozambican state prosecutors have applied to a court to close three state companies at the heart of a debt scandal that triggered a currency collapse and sovereign debt default, the prosecutors' office told Reuters.

Proindicus, Ematum and Mozambique Asset Management borrowed money from banks including Russia's VTB and Credit Suisse for a US$2 billion project spanning tuna fishing and maritime security that US authorities say was an elaborate front for a bribery and kickback scheme.

Hundreds of millions of US dollars went missing from the project and the supposed benefits never materialised, while Mozambique's government did not disclose some of the loans.

The Mozambique Attorney-General's Office said it had applied last month to the Maputo City Court to shut down the three firms because they are insolvent and suspended their activities more than three years ago.

Banks including VTB and Credit Suisse are involved in court cases demanding payment from Mozambique. The loans were guaranteed by the southern African country's government, which will still be on the hook for the money if the companies are dissolved by the court. – Nampa/Reuters

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Toyota expects profit to hit 9-yr low

Toyota Motor Corp said yesterday it expected to post its lowest annual operating profit in 9 years as the Japanese automaker grapples with the impact of the coronavirus, which has sapped global demand for cars.

Japan's biggest automaker said it expects an operating profit of 500 billion yen (US$4.66 billion) in the year to March year, down 80% from 2.44 trillion yen in the year just ended.

The global auto industry is reeling from the virus pandemic as containment measures such as curbs on public movement have prompted drivers to hold off from car purchases, forcing businesses to shutter production plants.– Nampa/Reuters

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