Company news in brief

31 August 2020 | Business

Glencore to sell entire stake in Mopani

Glencore will likely sell its entire 73.1% stake in Zambia's Mopani Copper Mines to the government's mining investment arm ZCCM-IH rather than becoming a minority stakeholder, two sources with direct knowledge told Reuters.

Zambia and Swiss-based Glencore are at "cross purposes" over Mopani, Zambian mines minister Richard Musukwa had said on Tuesday when he announced ZCCM-IH aims to increase its shareholding in Mopani to 51% "or even more", from 10% currently.

Glencore's plans to put Mopani on care and maintenance prompted the Zambian government to threaten in April to revoke the firm's mining licences.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations said Glencore is looking to exit the asset entirely.

The move by ZCCM-IH to take control of Mopani is part of its strategy shift away from minority stakes and towards running mines as an operator. – Nampa/Reuters

Steinhoff nine-month sales fall 6%

South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings on Friday reported a 6% decline in sales for the nine-months to June 30, due to Covid-19-related trading restrictions imposed worldwide.

Steinhoff, which is also listed in Frankfurt, said sales from continuing operations for the period fell to 6.8 billion euro (US$8.08 billion) from 7.2 billion euro in the same period the previous year.

The retailer said while almost all of its stores had reopened by the end of June, a significant amount of trade had been lost while they were closed.

Sales at Pepkor Holdings, a majority-owned subsidiary based in South Africa, fell 10% while sales of furniture retailer Conforama and Greenlit Brands, a household goods retailer and manufacturer in Australia and New Zealand, declined 18% and 1% respectively.

In July the company proposed to pay around US$1 billion to settle outstanding claims from shareholders who lost money when the company revealed holes in its accounts in 2017, totalling over 9 billion euro. – Nampa/Reuters

Sibanye-Stillwater reinstates dividend

Sibanye-Stillwater has returned to an interim profit and reinstated its dividend as higher precious metals prices and a weaker rand currency boosted its earnings in the first half.

Headline earnings per share reached 350 cents for the six months though June, compared with a loss per share of 54 cents a year earlier when output was hit by strikes.

The company, which last paid a dividend in the second half of 2016, said on Thursday it would make an interim payout of 50 cents per ordinary share and chief executive Neal Froneman said it hoped to pay an increased amount in the second half.

Core earnings or EBITDA rose 718% to US$990 million during the half year.

Higher precious metals prices, including gold's surge to record highs above US$2 000 an ounce, have given miners a lifeline after the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. – Nampa/Reuters

Massmart ups cost-saving target as loss widens

South African retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd has raised its three-year cost saving target to R1.9 billion as it seeks to halt expense growth, improve margins and exit loss-making stores, its chief executive said on Thursday.

A turnaround plan announced earlier this year by the company, majority-owned by Walmart Inc and whose brands also include Makro and Game, has started to yield results, CEO Mitchell Slape told analysts in a presentation.

Massmart, whose performance had suffered even before the pandemic as cash-strapped customers battle high unemployment, modest wage increases and higher average fuel and utility prices, has identified R400 million in additional cost savings, Slape said.

Meanwhile its gross profit margin grew 90 basis points to 20.1%.

Massmart lost R4.6 billion worth of sales during the initial nine weeks of the lockdown. Its total sales fell 9.7% to R39.6 billion in the first half as a whole, with comparable-store sales decreasing by the same amount. – Nampa/Reuters

Denel not planning to seek further bailouts

South African state defence firm Denel is not planning to seek new government equity injections despite a liquidity crunch aggravated by the coronavirus crisis, its interim chief executive told Reuters on Thursday.

Denel, which makes military equipment for South Africa's armed forces and clients around the world, is one of several troubled state-owned companies in the country that have been kept afloat by government bailouts in recent years.

It has struggled to pay salaries this year amid export restrictions and declining revenue. Last week the government said Denel made a R1.7 billion loss in the 2019/20 financial year.

"At this stage it is not in our plan," Talib Sadik said in an interview, when asked whether Denel would approach the government for further bailouts. "Our view is that we also need to fix our own house, because what we have is a bit of moral hazard happening."

Sadik said Denel had started discussions with the Public Investment Corporation and other bondholders about rolling over more than R2.6 billion of debt maturing next month. – Nampa/Reuters

SA approves AngloGold's Harmony sale

South Africa's mines ministry has given the green light for the sale of AngloGold Ashanti's last remaining assets in the country to Harmony Gold on condition that it does not delist from the Johannesburg stock Exchange.

Harmony agreed in February to buy rival AngloGold Ashanti's assets in South Africa, including Mponeng, the world's deepest gold mine, for about US$300 million.

The ministry said the granting of the application was based on a understanding between AngloGold Ashanti and the department that the company would not disinvest from the South African economy by delisting from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) or relocate its headquarters.

AngloGold had said in February it would consider moving its primary listing on the JSE as it streamlines its portfolio. But in August the company said moving its listing was no longer a priority amid the pandemic. – Nampa/Reuters

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