12 September 2018 | Sakenuus

Company news in brief

MTN confident about Nigeria dispute

South African telecoms firm MTN Group said on Monday it was confident a multibillion-dollar dispute with the Nigerian government would be resolved even as it applied for a court injunction to protect its Nigerian assets.

Nigeria's central bank last month ordered MTN's Lagos-based unit to hand over US$8.1 billion that it said was illegally sent abroad, and the government this month handed MTN a US$2 billion tax bill.

South Africa's Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele said that the government was ready to intervene to help MTN resolve the dispute with Nigeria.

"If they need our assistance, then we will engage our counterpart in Nigeria, but at this stage they have not asked us intervene," Cwele told Reuters. "We will be waiting for their call."

Nigeria's main allegation against MTN is that it used improperly issued certificates to convert shareholder loans in its Nigerian unit to preference shares in 2007. As a result, US$8.1 billion in dividends paid by MTN Nigeria to its parent between 2007 and 2015 should be returned, the central bank said. – Nampa/Reuters

VW investors seek damages over dieselgate scandal

Investors took Volkswagen to court on Monday to seek 9.2 billion euro (US$10.6 billion) in compensation for the hit to the carmaker's share price from its diesel emissions scandal, although the judge said some claims could be time-barred.

Shareholders representing 1 670 claims are seeking damages over the scandal, which broke in September 2015 and has cost Volkswagen (VW) 27.4 billion euro in penalties and fines so far.

It is likely that only some of the claims will be taken into account due to the statute of limitations, presiding judge Christian Jaede told the Braunschweig higher regional court as proceedings got under way, without giving a figure.

The case is so complicated that the court does not want to pin itself down, with many legal questions to be clarified, Jaede added. The court has not yet set a detailed timetable for proceedings in a case that could well end up in a higher court.

The plaintiffs say VW failed in its duty to inform investors about the financial impact of the scandal, which became public only after the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a "notice of violation" on Sept. 18, 2015.

Volvo Cars drops IPO

Volvo Cars and its owner Geely said on Monday they had postponed plans to float shares in the Swedish carmaker indefinitely, blaming trade tensions and a downturn in automotive stocks.

The postponement came as Britain's Aston Martin vowed to press ahead with its own flotation.

Volvo and its Chinese parent had been discussing an initial public offering to value the carmaker at between US$16 billion and US$30 billion, sources have previously said. The company said on Monday a listing was still possible in the future.

Washington's escalating trade spat with Beijing and tensions with Europe have rattled automotive investors, hitting share prices and adding volatility to market outlooks.

Volvo is less exposed than its German premium rivals to US-China tariffs, however, and has said it will juggle production of its XC60 SUV to reduce their impact. – Nampa/Reuters

Tesla shares bounce as Musk risk seen as overblown

Tesla shares bounced Monday following an upbeat analyst note that suggested worries about chief executive Elon Musk and his various controversies were exaggerated.

Alliance Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, Jr. said much of the pressure on Tesla shares over the last month has been due to the sense Musk is "running wild and can't be contained" following a patch of erratic behavior, including a podcast appearance Thursday night in which he smoked marijuana.

"Musk is not your typical CEO," Sacconaghi wrote. "As long as he doesn't self-destruct, we think this is the reality (show) of being a Tesla investor."

But, he said, "if Elon and the board wisely choose to add an executive/'adult in the room' and manage to restrict his twitter/public commentary, it would likely be viewed positively."

The gains also came after Musk himself said in an email to employees late Friday that the company was on track for the "most amazing quarter in our history" and urged employees to ignore "fuss and noise" about the company in the media. – Nampa/AFP

Snap chief strategy officer leaves

Snap Inc, the parent of Snapchat messaging, said on Monday chief strategy officer Imran Khan will step down, the latest top-level exit amid pressure to stem a drop in users following a controversial redesign of the app.

Khan, 41, whose last day has not been determined, was named to the role in 2015 and played a key part in taking Snap public in March of 2017.

In August, Snap reported its first-ever drop in daily users, largely due to the redesign, but beat quarterly revenue estimates on a shift to primarily selling ads through self-service.

"The company has struggled - commercially and in terms of users and usage - relative to earlier much more optimistic expectations that were widely held,"

Khan's exit follows finance head Andrew Vollero and vice president of monetisation engineering Stuart Bowers in May. – Nampa/Reuters