COMPANY NEWS IN BRIIEF

20 July 2021 | Business

Nigeria chooses Dangote to import sugar

Nigeria has designated three companies, including Dangote Sugar Refinery, as the country's sole importers of sugar, the central bank said, adding it would still need to approve such purchases.

The Central Bank of Nigeria said in April it would no longer provide foreign currency for importers of sugar and wheat as the country tries to conserve national dollar reserves and encourage local production.

In a circular dated July 16, the central bank's trade and exchange department said Dangote, which is owned by Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote, Bua Sugar Refinery and Golden Sugar Company were the only firms allowed to import sugar and would have access to dollars from official dealers.

The central bank justified its decision by saying the three firms, while still falling short of meeting demand, had made "reasonable progress" in producing refined sugar locally, but said they would still have to seek permission for purchases.

The move could effectively create an oligopoly in the sugar importing business as other companies will not have access to dollars from official dealers. -Nampa/Reuters

Zoom to buy Five9 in US$15 bln deal

Zoom Video Communications Inc announced a US$14.7 billion all-stock deal to buy cloud-based call centre operator Five9 Inc in its largest-ever acquisition, as competition intensifies in its core videoconferencing sector.

The teleconferencing services provider has become a household name and investor favourite in the year since the coronavirus pandemic, as businesses and schools adopted its services to hold virtual classes, office meets and socialise.

The San Jose, California-based company is now shifting focus to its two-year-old cloud-calling product Zoom Phone and conference-hosting product Zoom Rooms as bigger players Facebook and Alphabet's Google amp up their video products.

The acquisition will complement Zoom Phone service, an alternative to legacy phone offerings, by adding Five9's business customers and combining its contact centre software to optimize customer interactions across channels, it added.

Five9 will become an operating unit of Zoom and its chief executive, Rowan Trollope, will become a president of the company, staying on as chief of the unit after the deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2022, it said. -Nampa/Reuters

SGS to continue to invest as profits rise

Testing and inspection firm SGS said it would continue to invest in strategic priority areas after financial discipline helped margins and profits rise in the first half of 2021.

"We continue to invest in our strategic priority areas supported by our focused capital allocation strategy," SGS said in a statement, citing wireless, 5G, semiconductors, mobility, biopharma, food testing and investment into IT systems.

Total revenue rose 16.8% to 3.1 billion Swiss francs (US$3.37 billion), while profit attributable to equity holders rose 59.1% to 272 million francs, the Geneva-based company said.

The adjusted operating income margin also improved by 2.4 percentage points to 14.8%.

SGS, whose activities include environmental testing and public health, said the recovery of the testing, inspection and certification (TIC) industry continued to be affected by Covid-19 related challenges. -Nampa/Reuters

ADCB posts 14% increase in Q2 profit

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), UAE's third-biggest lender, reported a jump in second-quarter net profit on Sunday and said it was optimistic about the turnaround of troubled hospital operator NMC, to which it was heavily exposed.

Net profit between April and June amounted to 1.4 billion dirhams (US$381.22 million), a 14% increase year on year and a 25% increase quarter on quarter.

"The growth in net profit is a result of the increase in a diversified revenue stream, disciplined cost control and a prudent approach to risk management", Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said in a statement.

ADCB posted a 25% drop in net profit last year as it booked significantly higher provisions for NMC, which went into administration last year after months of turmoil following questions over its financial reporting and the discovery of undisclosed debt.

ADCB had nearly US$1 billion in lending exposure to the group, which is set to soon obtain creditor approval for a reorganisation of the business. -Nampa/Reuters

Pfizer agrees to pay US$345 mln

Pfizer Inc has agreed to pay US$345 million to resolve claims by consumers who say they overpaid for EpiPens due to anticompetitive practices by the drugmaker and the company that markets the emergency allergy treatment, Mylan.

The proposed class action settlement was disclosed in a filing in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. The deal, which requires a judge's approval, would not resolve claims against Mylan, which is scheduled to face trial in January.

Paul Geller, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said they were "pleased that Pfizer resolved its part of this class action lawsuit over the pricing of EpiPens."

Pfizer did not admit wrongdoing. In a statement, the company said that it "denies any wrongdoing and continues to believe that its actions were appropriate."

The EpiPen is a handheld device that treats life-threatening allergic reactions by automatically injecting a dose of epinephrine. -Nampa/Reuters

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