24 November 2020 | Business

Prosus' HY earnings surge 29%

Technology investment company Prosus NV said yesterday core earnings for the six months ended Sept. 30 surged 29% to US$2.2 billion, as proceeds from its lucrative stake in China's Tencent offset losses at its other online businesses.

Prosus operates online food delivery, classified and payments businesses, and holds a 31% stake in Chinese social media and online gaming company Tencent.

“The pandemic has accelerated activity in the consumer internet space, benefiting our businesses,” chief executive officer Bob van Dijk said in a statement.

In its outlook, Prosus said its underlying businesses were “strong, with all well-positioned to build on the accelerating shift to online triggered by the pandemic”.

The company reported an operating loss of US$207 million, but narrowed from last year's loss of US$252 million, which Prosus said was due to better performance by its food delivery platforms in Brazil and India.

– Nampa/Reuters

SABC delays job cuts plan

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) delayed a plan to lay off 600 employees on Friday after threats of a radio and TV blackout by some of its presenters and journalists.

The public broadcaster is among the heavily indebted state-owned firms that South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to wean off public funding.

Its staff of around 3 000 permanent employees and 1 500 independent contractors is among SABC's biggest expenses, although unions say the high salaries of middle management and executives are to blame.

The SABC board said this week it needed at least R1 billion a year to keep going, and that its plan to cut costs by reducing headcount was not yet working.

SABC's annual report shows it lost R511 million in its 2019/20 financial year, compared with a R482 million loss the year before, with revenue from advertising, sponsorship and licence fees showing sharp falls.

– Nampa/Reuters

Danone lays out productivity plans

French food group Danone laid out plans yesterday for becoming a more efficient organisation in a post-Covid world, including by cutting costs, trimming product ranges and reorganising its business.

The world's largest yoghurt company announced its intention ahead of an online investor meeting, the first in a series of updates covering plans announced last month.

Danone is reshaping itself into a 'local-first' company, giving local business units around the world more autonomy, and promoting their zone presidents to the executive committee.

It also plans to reduce the range of products it sells by 10-30% in the next year, focusing on faster-growing and more profitable products.

It expects its actions will result in 1 billion euro (US$1.2 billion) in cost savings by 2023, including a 20% reduction in overhead costs.

– Nampa/Reuters

Tiger to cut costs after earnings hit

Tiger Brands is targeting cost savings of R500 million in the year ahead, its chief executive said on Friday as South Africa's biggest food producer's headline earnings per share from continuing operations fell 23%.

The owner of popular brands Jungle Oats and Tastic rice said it had concluded a sale agreement for eight personal care brands, including its Gill shampoo and Lemon Lite facial cream brands, its CEO Noel Doyle said during a media call. Outlining a brief growth plan, Doyle said Tiger Brands will look at different models that include joint ventures, venture capital and earning revenue from licensing its brands.

The firm is also looking at e-commerce opportunities to monetise on the demand and will start with a pilot project to sell one of its products directly to consumers via online shopping as opposed to retail clients.

Tiger Brands was showing positive momentum so far in its 2021 financial year, with some signs of recovery in pasta and rice after a “dismal” 2020, he told analysts.

– Nampa/Reuters

Coal India to invest in solar to cut costs

Coal India Ltd, the world's largest coal miner, said yesterday it would invest 56.50 billion rupees (US$763 million) by March 2024 to build 14 solar projects to help power its mining operations and cut costs.

The state-run company will fund nearly two-thirds of its plan to construct rooftop and ground-mounted solar power projects with a capacity of 3 000 megawatts (MW) with cash.

Coal India plans to produce 1 billion tonnes of coal a year by 2023/24. The miner's output fell for the first time in more than two decades in 2019/20 to nearly 603 million tonnes.

– Nampa/Reuters

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