COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

23 February 2021 | Business

AngloGold Ashanti boosts dividend

AngloGold Ashanti yesterday joined other global gold miners in boosting pay-outs to shareholders after reporting a leap in annual earnings following a 25% increase in gold prices last year.

The miner declared a full-year dividend of 7.05 rand per share, more than five times the 2019 dividend when translated into US cents, thanks to a weakening of the US dollar against the rand last year.

Headline earnings for the full-year 2020 were 238 US cents per share, more than double the 91 US cents per share reported in 2019.

AngloGold, which has mines in Ghana, Tanzania, and Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Argentina, Australia, and Colombia, said earlier this month it expected earnings to almost triple.

Production fell 7% in 2020 to 3.047 million ounces from 3.281 million ounces due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sale of the remaining South African assets to Harmony Gold, as well as the sale of the Sadiola and Morila mines in Mali.

All-in sustaining costs increased 6.1%, from US$998 per ounce to US$1059 per ounce, with most of the cost increase caused by the pandemic, AngloGold said. - Nampa/Reuters

Volkswagen to make decision on Bugatti

Electric hypercar maker Rimac Automobili and Volkswagen’s supercar brand Bugatti are a good technological fit, Porsche AG’s CEO told German weekly Automobilwoche, fuelling hopes that a deal between the two could happen soon.

British automotive magazine Car last year reported here that Volkswagen was on the verge of selling Bugatti to Rimac Automobili, citing sources.

In exchange, Porsche AG, also owned by Volkswagen, would raise the 15.5% stake it owns in Rimac Automobili, founded by Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac, Car said.

“At the moment there are intense deliberations on how Bugatti can be developed in the best possible way. Rimac could play a role here because the brands are a good technological fit,” Porsche AG CEO Oliver Blume said.

“There are various scenarios with different structures. I believe that the issue will be decided by the group in the first half of the year,” said Blume, who also sits on the management board of parent Volkswagen AG. - Nampa/Reuters

Citigroup to divest some consumer units

Citigroup Inc is considering divesting some international consumer units, Bloomberg Law reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The discussions are around divesting units across retail banking in the Asia-Pacific region, the report said.

“As our incoming CEO Jane Fraser said in January, we are undertaking a dispassionate and thorough review of our strategy,” a Citigroup spokesperson told Reuters.

“Many different options are being considered and we will take the right amount of time before making any decisions.”

The move, part of Fraser’s attempt to simplify the bank, can see units in South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia being divested, the Bloomberg report said.

Revenue from Citi’s consumer banking business in Asia declined 15% to US$1.55 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020.- Nampa/Reuters

Valentino sued for US$207 million

Valentino SpA was sued on Friday for US$207.1 million by the landlord of its former American flagship on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, which said the Italian fashion company had no right to break its lease and leave the store in disrepair.

The complaint followed a judge’s Jan. 27 dismissal of Valentino’s own lawsuit seeking to void its 16-year lease because the coronavirus pandemic had made operating the store, two blocks south of Trump Tower, impossible.

According to the landlord, 693 Fifth Owner LLC, Valentino owes all rent due through the lease’s July 2029 expiration despite abandoning the store in December.

Valentino must also pay US$12.9 million to repair store damage, including to Venetian Terrazzo marble panels now defaced with paint and holes, the landlord said.

Neither Valentino nor its lawyers immediately responded to requests for comment. The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, a New York state court. - Nampa/Reuters

Facebook, Google could lose bargaining power

Bipartisan members of Congress plan to introduce a bill in coming weeks to make it easier for smaller news organizations to negotiate with Big Tech platforms, said Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel.

The US bill would be introduced at a time when Australia is in a pitched battle with Facebook. The social media giant blocked news feeds and other pages including those of charities and emergency services as part of a dispute over a proposed law.

The proposed law would require Google to pay news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms, or agree on a price through arbitration.

Buck, who was named the ranking member this month, told Reuters on Thursday the panel would bring out a series of antitrust bills and the first one in the coming weeks would allow smaller news organizations to negotiate collectively with Facebook and Alphabet’s Google.

Social media companies use news to attract customers and have been accused by news publishers of not sharing enough advertising revenue with them. The legislation could boost sales in the struggling news business.

While Facebook has fought publishers, Google has struck deals with them in France, Australia and other countries. - Nampa/Reuters

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