COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

09 June 2021 | Business

SAB reinstate its investment programme

South African Breweries (SAB), part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, has reinstated its investment programme that was cancelled last year, allocating R2 billion (US$148.12 million) for its home operations, the company said on Monday.

The maker of Carling Black Label and Castle Lager beer had cancelled R2.5 billion for the 2020 financial year and in January cancelled a further R2.5 billion of investment earmarked for 2021 due to a challenging operating environment, regulatory uncertainty and a third local ban on alcohol sales in the country.

South Africa had banned alcohol sales as part of efforts to free up space in hospitals burdened with alcohol-related injuries for Covid-19 patients. In its latest move to curb the third-wave of infections, alcohol sales were not banned but gatherings have been reduced.

The capital injection is earmarked for projects to be completed in the financial year 2022. Projects include upgrades to operating facilities, installation of new equipment at selected plants, product innovations and other necessary operating systems, SAB said in a statement.

"The move to implement reasonable measures, as we continue to navigate the pandemic, is a welcomed signal that we can expect to see more consultation in the future and that blanket bans will be a thing of the past," SAB VP Finance and Legal, Richard Rivett-Carnac said. - Nampa/Reuters

Avima launches arbitration against Congo

Avima Iron Ore Limited said on Monday it had launched arbitration proceedings against Congo Republic and is seeking US$27 billion in damages after the government stripped its production license last year.

The United Arab Emirates-registered company's iron ore licence was one of three that Congo's government revoked late last year and handed to a little-known company backed by Chinese investment called Sangha Mining Development Sasu.

Avima said in a statement it had been scheduled to start production and ship high-grade iron ore to customers from a port in neighbouring Cameroon beginning in January 2021.

"We are taking all necessary action and pre-emptive measures to protect our investment against these unlawful attempts to expropriate our assets," said Avima's executive chairman, Socrates Vasiliades.

Australia's Sundance Resources, whose Mbalam-Nabeba project straddles the border of Congo and Cameroon, filed for arbitration against Congo in March after the government stripped it of its license. It is seeking US$8.8 billion in damages. -Nampa/Reuters

Blackstone to buy QTS Realty Trust

Investment firm Blackstone Group Inc will buy data centre operator QTS Realty Trust Inc for about US$6.7 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The buyout firm's infrastructure unit along with its non-traded real-estate investment trust will pay US$78 per share for QTS, according to the report. The price represents a premium of about 21% to QTS' closing price on Friday.

A Covid-19 pandemic-led remote working environment boosted demand for cloud services, which are reliant on data centres. QTS has more than 7 million square feet of data centre space throughout North America and Europe.

The transaction is valued at about US$10 billion, including the assumption of the data centre operator's existing debt, the report said.

Blackstone and QTS did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment. - Nampa/Reuters

Google to change advertising practices

Google said it would make changes to its global advertising business to ensure it did not abuse its dominance, bowing to antitrust pressure for the first time in a landmark settlement with French authorities.

The deal with the French competition watchdog could help rebalance the power over advertising in favour of publishers, which held sway over the business in the pre-internet era but lost control with the rapid rise of Google and Facebook.

The settlement, which was announced on Monday and also saw Google fined 220 million euros (US$268 million), is the first time the US tech giant has agreed to make changes to its huge advertising business, which brings in the bulk of its revenue.

"The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it's the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies," said France's antitrust chief Isabelle de Silva.

The watchdog found that Google's ad management platform for large publishers - Google Ad Manager - favoured the company's own online ad marketplace Google AdX where publishers sell space to advertisers in real-time. - Nampa/Reuters

Macquarie to sell unit Atlantic Aviation

Macquarie Infrastructure Corp said on Monday it plans to sell its private aviation services network Atlantic Aviation to private-equity firm KKR & Co Inc for US$4.48 billion. Atlantic Aviation operates one of the largest networks of fixed base operations in the United States.

Fixed-base operators, or FBOs, provide services ranging from hangars to fuelling, and have been drawing investor interest as private jet traffic rebounds in the United States.

The deal, which includes debt, is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Macquarie Infrastructure's board is expected to authorize a cash distribution of about US$37.35 per unit after the closing.

Reuters previously reported the news on Sunday citing a source familiar with the matter. Lazard and Evercore acted as financial advisers to Macquarie, while Jefferies LLC advised KKR. - Nampa/Reuters

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