COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

08 June 2021 | Business

BHP kick off labour talks

The union of workers for BHP's sprawling Escondida mine said it had delivered an initial proposal for a new collective labour contract, marking the opening salvo in much-watched negotiations at the world's largest copper deposit.

The fresh negotiations at Escondida come as copper prices have spiked amid soaring demand and tight supply for the red metal, handing workers additional leverage as they enter into the high-profile talks.

"This negotiation takes place in a highly favourable economic environment for the industry, which is estimated to be projected over time," the union said in a statement.

The union has requested a one-time signing bonus equivalent to 1% of dividends paid to the mine's owners, BHP, Rio Tinto and Jeco Corporation plus a 5% salary increase, a "just and objective" system of career of development, and ongoing merit-based worker bonuses.

"Our Union will undertake this process knowing that the result affects not only the company and the workers, but also the country in general," adding that there "there is no reason why BHP cannot make good on our requests."- Nampa/Reuters

BFOF appoints SA administrator

Botswana's Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOF), with 83 billion pula (US$7.85 billion) in assets under management, has appointed South African advisory firm NMG Benefits to administrate the fund.

NMG Botswana, a joint venture between BPOPF (51%) and NMG South Africa (49%), will collect contributions, manage payrolls and maintain records for the 156 000-member fund.

The outsourcing of the fund’s administration is to comply with a 2017 decision by Botswana's regulators that all pension funds be managed by an independent administrator unconnected with the fund itself.

The BPOF, one of Africa's largest pension funds and the dominant investor in the diamond producer's economy with stakes in energy, mining and retail, has been anxious to fall in line with financial regulations and streamline its administration after ending an outsourcing deal with Alexander Forbes in 2015.

Botswana's financial industry has been growing in recent years to become a key driver of growth in the services sector, but the industry is still dominated by South African firms. -Nampa/Reuters

Delta Air expects profit to strengthen

Delta Air Lines said it expects to generate a pre-tax profit in the second half of 2021, with Chief Executive Ed Bastian pointing to a re-opening of corporate America by Labour Day in early September.

"I'd expect over the course of the next few months, certainly by Labour Day, no later than, we're going to see corporate America open for business," Bastian said at Bernstein virtual conference.

So far airlines' recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has been led by domestic leisure travel demand, which Bastian said was better than expected in May and June.

"The US consumer is leading the return of our air travel business, and I could not be happier with what we're seeing happening as our business really is into a full-fledged recovery mode," Bastian said.

The US carrier forecast second-quarter pre-tax loss between US$1 billion and US$1.2 billion, compared to an earlier expectation of between US$1 and US$1.5 billion loss. - Nampa/Reuters

Aboriginal group disappointed by Rio Tinto

An Aboriginal group on whose lands Rio Tinto mines iron ore in Western Australia said it did not support the miner's board appointment of former state minister Ben Wyatt, citing his approvals that led to destruction of cultural heritage sites.

Wyatt, the state's former treasurer and Aboriginal affairs minister, is to be Rio's first Indigenous board member, the firm said on Friday, as it moves to restore a reputation tarnished after last year's destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters.

"Unfortunately, our engagement with Mr Wyatt has not been positive and we do not see him helping to restore Rio’s reputation with indigenous stakeholders," said Glen Camile, chairman of the firm that holds native title to the lands.

The firm's view was largely based on Wyatt's consistent approval of applications to destroy Aboriginal heritage sites in the state's development process, it said in a statement late on Friday.

The firm, the Winatwari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation (WGAC), holds native title to an area of the Pilbara that contains almost 40% of Rio's Australian iron ore mines. Rio Tinto declined to comment. - Nampa/Reuters

Altium rejects US$3.9 bln buyout offer

Australia-listed software maker Altium Ltd rejected a buyout proposal from American peer Autodesk Inc that valued the company at A$5.05 billion (US$3.91 billion), saying it "significantly undervalued" its prospects.

The US firm, which makes architecture designing software AutoCAD, offered Altium A$38.50 for each share, a 41.5% premium to its last closing price. Altium's shares soared as much as 40.6% to mark their biggest intraday gain in more than a decade before pulling back to trade 34.7% higher.

The proposal followed talks of a strategic partnership between the two companies, with Autodesk looking to integrate Altium's electronics designing software with its engineering and manufacturing software platforms to provide its users a host of applications under one cloud network.

San Diego, California-based Altium said it "rejects the proposal at the current price", adding it would engage with interested parties for an appropriate valuation and pursue a review of all potential strategic alternatives.

Autodesk, which is also based in California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the rejection. - Nampa/Reuters

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