Company news in brief

14 May 2021 | Business

Naspers, Prosus launch share swap deal

Dutch-listed technology investor Prosus NV plans to raise its stake in South African parent Naspers to nearly 50% in a share swap deal that will move part of their huge holding in China's Tencent to Amsterdam from Johannesburg.

Naspers is Africa's biggest listed company because of its Tencent holding but its shares trade at a steep discount to the value of its stake, which led it to list Prosus in 2019.

Under the deal, Prosus will issue new shares to buy up to 45.4% of Naspers shares, effectively moving part of Naspers from the Johannesburg bourse to Euronext in Amsterdam, another fillip for the Dutch market which has won ground from London following Brexit.

The 28.9% stake that Prosus holds in software and gaming giant Tencent Holdings is worth 172 billion euro (US$208.6 billion) at current market prices. Prosus has a market capitalisation of 138 billion euro and Naspers of 80 billion euro.

Last month Prosus sold 2% of Tencent for US$14.7 billion, in one of its largest strategic moves since its 2019 public listing in Amsterdam. The stake will not be further reduced for 3 years. – Nampa/Reuters

Petra Diamonds reaches settlement on abuse claims

Petra Diamonds has reached a settlement with claimants at its Williamson mine in Tanzania who accused the firm of being responsible for widespread human rights violations including beatings and detentions, both sides said.

Last year, the firm said it was investigating allegations that artisanal miners who trespassed on the firm's Williamson mine in Tanzania were detained, beaten and shot at, killing at least seven of them.

The abuses were allegedly committed by security contractors and security employees of Petra's subsidiary Williamson Diamonds Limited (WDL).

"Petra Diamonds Limited today confirms that a settlement has been reached, on a no admission of liability basis," Petra said in a statement.

Petra owns 75% of the mine, while the Tanzania government owns the rest. The firm said it had agreed to a settlement worth 4.3 million pounds (US$6.1 million) that will cover direct compensatory payments to victims, their legal expenses, investments in community projects and others items. – Nampa/Reuters

Italy fines Google for abuse of dominant position

Italy's competition watchdog said yesterday it had fined Google 102 million euro for abuse of its dominant position due to its Android mobile operating system and app store Google Play.

"Through android and the app store Google Play, Google has a dominant position which allows it to control the reach app developers have on final users," the regulator said in a statement, adding that almost three-quarters of Italians use smartphones running on Android.

The regulator said Google did not allow JuicePass, an electric vehicle (EV) services app from Enel X, to operate on Android Auto - which allows apps to be used while driving - unfairly limiting its use while favouring Google Maps.

Google has not been allowing the app on Android Auto for two years, which could compromise Enel X's ability to build a user base, the watchdog said.

On top of the fine, the regulator said it had requested Google make JuicePass available on Android Auto. – Nampa/Reuters

Rolls-Royce sticks to guidance for 2021

British engineering company Rolls-Royce stuck to its guidance to turn free cash flow positive at some point during the second half of 2021 as vaccinations kick in and travellers return to the skies.

In the year to date, the company said its operational and financial performance had been in line with expectations, suggesting the return of some stability after a torrid 2020 for one of the last vestiges of Britain's manufacturing industry.

Rolls' model of charging airlines for the number of hours its engines fly meant much of its income dried up last year when travel stopped. It has cut costs, taken on debt and raised equity to survive.

It also plans to sell 2 billion pounds worth of assets to help repair its finances, and said on Thursday that there was an "encouraging range" of parties interested in buying its Spanish unit ITP Aero, for which it hopes to get 1.5 billion euro.

Over the first four months of 2021, Rolls-Royce said that large engine flying hours were around 40% of pre-pandemic levels, in line with its expectations. Good progress was also being made with a cost-cutting plan, the company added. – Nampa/Reuters

Tesla halts use of bitcoin for car purchases

Tesla Inc will no longer accept bitcoin for car purchases, chief executive Elon Musk said, citing long-brewing environmental concerns for a swift reversal in the company's position on the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin fell more than 10% after Musk tweeted his decision to suspend its use, less than two months after Tesla began accepting the world's biggest digital currency for payment.

The use of bitcoin to buy Tesla's electric vehicles had highlighted a dichotomy between Musk's reputation as an environmentalist and the use of his popularity and stature as one of the world's richest people to back cryptocurrencies.

Some Tesla investors, along with environmentalists, have been increasingly critical about the way bitcoin is "mined" using vast amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels.

Tesla revealed in February it had bought US$1.5 billion of bitcoin, before accepting it as payment for cars in March, driving a roughly 20% surge in the cryptocurrency. – Nampa/Reuters

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