COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

24 November 2021 | Business

Tencent boosts Prosus profit

Prosus, which owns a US$175 billion minority stake in Chinese internet gaming and social media group Tencent, posted an 8% rise in first-half trading profit to US$2.9 billion as revenue rose rapidly in its overall portfolio.

Sometimes compared to SoftBank and its Vision Fund, Prosus NV, owns stakes in a wide range of consumer internet companies, with returns from Tencent Holdings dominating its overall performance.

Although its net profit spiked after Prosus booked a one-time profit of US$12.3 billion on the sale of part of its Tencent stake, operating losses at businesses it controls increased.

Prosus said in a statement on Monday that revenues at its e-commerce portfolio had risen by 53% to $4.2 billion, while that segment's trading loss increased to US$372 million from a loss of US$214 million in the same period a year ago.

The e-commerce portfolio, which does not include returns from its holding in Tencent, spans a group of businesses that Prosus either owns or controls in classified advertising, food delivery, educational technology and fintech and payments. Prosus estimated the market value of the e-commerce businesses at around US$49 billion. -Nampa/Reuters

Telenor and CP Group to merge

Norway's Telenor and Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group have agreed to merge their telecom units in Thailand, the Oslo-based company said in a statement on Monday, in a deal valued at about 282.8 billion baht (US$8.61 billion).

The deal, which Telenor had flagged on Friday, would merge the telecom operations of Telenor's Total Access Communication (Dtac) and CP Group's True Corporation.

The offer of 47.76 baht (US$1.45) a share represents a premium of 15.8% to Dtac's last close as of Friday and the offer of 5.09 baht (US$0.1549) a share represents a premium of 17.8% to True's close on Friday.

Telenor and CP group will aim for an ownership share of around one-third each in the merged entity, the company said.

Shares of both Dtac and True were up on Monday. The combined company will be listed on the Thai stock exchange. -Nampa/Reuters

Police charge Amazon executives

Indian police said on Saturday they had charged senior executives of Amazon.com's local unit under narcotics laws in a case of alleged marijuana smuggling via the online retailer.

Police in the central Madhya Pradesh state arrested two men with 20 kg of marijuana on Nov. 14 and found they were using the Amazon India website to order and further smuggle the substance in the guise of stevia leaves, a natural sweetener, to other Indian states.

State police said in a statement that executive directors of Amazon India were being named as accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act due to differences in answers in documents provided by the company in response to police questions and facts unearthed by discussion.

Police did not disclose how many executives were charged. The police, who had previously summoned and spoken to Amazon executives in the case, estimate that about 1 000 kg of marijuana, worth roughly US$148 000, was sold via Amazon.

Amazon said in a statement that it does not allow the listing and sale of legally prohibited products, adding that it takes strict action against sellers in case of any contravention. -Nampa/Reuters

KKR approaches Telecom

Telecom Italia has received a 10.8-billion-euro (US$12 billion) approach from US. fund KKR aimed at taking Italy's biggest phone group private, the company said on Sunday.

KKR's move comes as TIM's CEO Luigi Gubitosi battles for survival after coming under fire from top investor Vivendi following two profit warnings in three months.

TIM said KKR had set an indicative price of 0.505 euros for its possible buyout offer a 45.7% premium to the ordinary shares' closing price on Friday. KKR would also offer the same price for TIM's savings shares.

The TIM board, chaired by former Bank of Italy official Salvatore Rossi, met for several hours on Sunday afternoon but in a short statement it gave no indication of whether it would support the approach.

It noted that KKR had termed its action as "friendly" and aimed at winning the backing of the company and of the government.

Italy's Treasury said foreign interest in Italian companies was "positive news for the country" and the market would assess how valid KKR's plan is were it to materialise. -Nampa/Reuters

Tadawul sets price range for IPO

Saudi Tadawul Group, the kingdom's stock exchange operator, has set an indicative price range for its initial public offering which shows it could raise up to 3.78 billion riyals (US$1.01 billion) in the deal.

Saudi Tadawul plans to sell 36 million shares in the price range of 95 riyals to 105 riyals a share, it said in a stock exchange filing.

Saudi Tadawul's listing plan comes after a boom in IPO activity in the kingdom following the listing of Saudi Aramco in 2019, which raised US$29.4 billion in the world's biggest flotation.

Prominent IPOs this year have been ACWA Power International US$1.2 billion flotation and Saudi Telecom Co's IPO of its unit, Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co, which raised about $966 million.

Saudi Tadawul said the final price for its offering will be determined after the completion of the book-building process, which begins on Sunday and ends on November 26. The market capitalisation of companies listed on Tadawul is around US$2.7 trillion, making the bourse the Arab world’s largest stock exchange. -Nampa/Reuters

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