COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

06 April 2021 | Business

Anglogold plays down merger prospects

South Africa's Anglogold Ashanti does not need to pursue mergers and won't add scale for its own sake, its interim chief executive saidlast week, dampening speculation it could take part in further deals in the sector.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman floated the idea of a merger with peers AngloGold and Gold Fields, arguing consolidation is needed for South Africa's gold miners to compete globally.

Anglogold interim CEO Christine Ramon declined to comment directly when asked about a potential tie-up with Gold Fields during a roundtable at the Mining Indaba Virtual Investment Programme alongside Froneman and Barrick Gold head Mark Bristow.

Consolidation can bring benefits including operational synergies, but can also add complexity and costs, she said.

Ramon, who replaced Kelvin Dushinsky at the helm of Anglogold last year on an interim basis, said the miner is focused on developing its own assets and has the support of investors. – Nampa/Reuters

Naspers hires Airbnb, Amazon veteran

Africa's largest company, Naspers Ltd, has hired a top Airbnb and former Amazon executive to lead its global online classifieds business, it said on Thursday, as the technology investor looks to shore up contributions from core businesses.

The company's online classifieds business, clubbed under OLX Group, contributes 5% to overall revenues and is the biggest among an array of businesses such as payments and fintech, food delivery and education technology.

However, its size is largely overshadowed by Naspers' blockbuster investment in Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, which owns China's biggest messaging app, WeChat, and accounts for more than three-fourths of its revenues.

Romain Voog, who was the vice president for worldwide sales operation and geographies at Airbnb, has joined Prosus NV from April 1 as the chief executive officer of OLX Group, it said in a statement.

Prosus is a Naspers subsidiary that houses all of its overseas assets including Tencent and online classifieds business, which is spread across 30 countries.- Nampa/Reuters

South32 to pay clean-up costs

South32 Ltd will provide up to US$250 million in funds to smooth the sale of its South African energy coal business to mining group Seriti Resources, the company said on Thursday.

South32 will pay US$200 million across a decade to partly fund costs of the environmental clean-up of the mines of its South Africa Energy Coal unit once they close, and a US$50 million facility to pay for the costs of restructuring some loss-making mining sites, it said.

The deal would allow South32 to reshape its business by exiting the thermal coal sector at a time when many banks and insurers are scaling back financing for the sector because of global warming concerns.

Miners typically guarantee a larger portion of funds to cover rehabilitation costs if a buyer is small, to assure governments they won't have to foot the bill, said analyst Peter O'Connor, at Australian investment firm Shaw and Partners.

"It's a step backwards to go forward, but the key here is that they need to do this deal, it has been a burden on them for so long, it makes a cleaner, simpler, leaner business," O'Connor said. - Nampa/Reuters

SA's Land Bank misses March deadline

South African cash-strapped Land and Agricultural Development Bank missed a March 31 deadline to conclude a debt restructuring plan with lenders.

In April 2020 the country's largest agricultural-focussed lender defaulted on some repayments on its 50 billion-rand (US$3.38 billion) debt, triggering credit downgrades and fears of cross default on the debt of other state firms.

The government stepped in, giving the Land Bank a bailout of R3 billion last year and R7 billion last month while the bank negotiated with a consortium of its lenders on a "liability solution" that would determine a new schedule of repayments.

The negotiations, which began in mid-2020, have stalled, with lenders complaining about lack of information and certainty in the proposals by the Land Bank.

The Land Bank had initially asked lenders to term-out their loans into a single 5-year note. More recently it proposed splitting its loan book into a commercial and a development book. - Nampa/Reuters

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