COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

18 June 2021 | Business

BHP delays decision on Jansen project

BHP Group is reviewing two port options for its Jansen potash project in Canada and expects to make a decision in the coming few months before taking the project to the board for a final investment decision, an executive said yesterday.

BHP had previously said it expected to make a decision by mid-year on whether to proceed with the project in Canada's Saskatchewan province, which is estimated to cost up to US$5.7 billion in its first phase.

"We are considering two options in terms of the port. One is a commercial option at the port of Vancouver, one is a greenfield option," Ragnar Udd, President of BHP's Minerals America said yesterday.

"We would like to have those locked in before we take them to the board," he said. "We continue to expect that this (decision) will occur in the next, coming few months."

Development of the project is expected to take five years and have an annual capacity to produce around 4.4 million tonnes of potash with an estimated mine life of 100 years. It will have capacity for an additional 12 million tonnes in stages thereafter. - Nampa/Reuters

Higher prices boost Lennar profit

Lennar Corp beat quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by higher prices due to a tight supply of homes in the United States.

The Covid-19 pandemic fuelled demand for spacious and more expensive homes as millions of Americans work from home and take classes remotely.

But the health crisis has hurt the homebuilders' ability to ramp up construction due to labour supply disruptions as well as shortage of lumber and other raw materials. This has pushed up prices as buyers scramble to get hold of available inventory.

Lennar's homebuilding gross margin rose by 450 basis points to 26.1% in the three months ended May 31, a record for the second quarter, helped by higher-than-expected sales price per home.

The No. 2 US homebuilder also raised its average sales price forecast by 5% to US$420 000, while reaffirming its outlook for annual deliveries of between 62 000 homes and 64 000 homes.- Nampa/Reuters

SA's former Eskom chairman dies

The former chairman of state-owned South African utility Eskom and widely admired businessman Jabu Mabuza has died from Covid-19 complications on Wednesday, his family announced.

Mabuza, 63, resigned unexpectedly from Eskom in early 2020 after apologising for failing to meet a commitment to avoid power cuts during the holiday period.

He had been appointed to lead the Eskom board shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa won the African National Congress (ANC) party leadership in December 2017.

"Jabu lived his life so beautifully and committed to the transformation of South Africa's economy," the statement from his family read.

"He was a pillar of strength for his family, a dedicated servant of the country, an activist in empowering black entrepreneurs and committed to work for the transformation of corporate South Africa."

Mabuza also served as chairman of various companies including casino and hotel owner Sun International, mobile and landline operator Telkom SA and Anheuser Busch InBev's African business following the merger with SAB Miller in 2018.- Nampa/Reuters

Facebook removes fake Ethiopia account

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it had removed a network of fake accounts in Ethiopia targeting domestic users ahead of next week's elections, which it linked to individuals associated with the country's Information Network Security Agency.

Facebook said the network posted mainly in Amharic about news and current events, including about Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party.

It said the network posted critical commentary about opposition politicians and groups including the Oromo Liberation Front, Ethiopian Democratic Party, and the Tigray People's Liberation Front among others.

The head of INSA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The agency, which was set up years before Abiy came to power, is responsible for monitoring telecommunications and the internet.

Facebook said the network of accounts, groups and pages on Facebook and Instagram had violated its rules against "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" and had accelerated its posting in 2020 and into 2021.- Nampa/Reuters

Lead Edge Capital raises US$150 mln

Lead Edge Capital, which has backed Uber Technologies Inc and Alibaba Group, has raised $150 million through a new fund to invest in publicly listed software and internet companies, the venture said on Wednesday.

In a statement seen by Reuters ahead of its official release, New York City-based Lead Edge said the new fund is expected to hold positions in five to 10 public firms at a time and the initial portfolio will be built over the next two years.

"We think of it like private equity in the public markets. We will build a portfolio of 10 stocks over the next few years," said Evan Skorpen, principal, public markets at Lead Edge.

The new fund has so far invested in a Japanese business, Skorpen added, without giving more details. Lead Edge's public investments tend to focus on companies with market capitalizations ranging from US$1 billion to US$10 billion.

Lead Edge will operate the public fund alongside its private equity investment vehicles, it said. The company has been investing in public growth-stage software, internet and tech-enabled service businesses globally since 2015 out of their core private equity funds. - Nampa/Reuters

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