COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

Discovery cuts medical savings accounts by 5%

Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) has cut the total contributions allocated to members' medical savings accounts (MSA) across its popular saver series of plans by 5%.

The medical scheme provider's Classic Saver and Classic Delta Saver will each see the percentage of total premiums allocated to members' MSAs cut from 25% to 20% while the Essential Saver and Essential Delta Saver will see their allocations drop from 15% to 10% in 2024. The Coastal Saver plan will have its allocations cut from 20% to 15% as of next year.

However, Discovery says the reduction in MSA allocations on its saver series of medical aid plans is intended to soften the impact of 2024 premium increases for these plans, which - as its most affordable options - cater to its most economically vulnerable clients. It also argues that it has introduced new risk benefits on these plans that offset the drop in MSA allocations.

The risk contribution is the member's contribution towards the risk pool of the scheme, from which risk benefits are paid. These benefits are comparable to insured benefits. Deon Kotze, chief product officer at Discovery Health, said increases in the risk contributions must be in line with medical inflation, to ensure that the risk pool has sufficient funds to pay the risk benefits that are funded from that pool.

Discovery's five saver series plans account for more than half the members of the DHMS, with the Classic Saver and Classic Delta Saver accounting for 26% of all members. DHMS had almost 1.38 million and 2.81 million beneficiaries as at end December 2022, accounting for 57.6% of the open medical scheme market in South Africa.-Fin24

Futurelife opens second restaurant

The popular breakfast cereal brand Futurelife has opened its second store, which offers everything from smoothies to clothing - as well as nutritional advice from an on-site dietician.

Futurelife was founded in KwaZulu-Natal in 2007 by chartered accountant and businessman Paul Saad, brother of Aspen CEO Stephen Saad.

He worked with scientists to design a nutrition-dense food product that could be mixed with water. The first range of cereals – direct competition to Pioneer Foods' ProNutro - was launched in 2009.

In 2015, Pioneer Foods bought a stake in the group and earlier this year, US giant Pepsico – the new owners of Pioneer – took full control of Futurelife.

Futurelife, which now offers a range of other products like shakes and granola bars, has recently ventured into retail outlets, opening its first store at Ocean Mall in Umhlanga. A second store was launched at Canal Walk in Cape Town.

PepsiCo SA CEO Riaan Heyl said while it was "still early days", the group was also considering opening a third Futurelife concept store in Gauteng.

The stores have cafés that sell coffee as well as Futurelife-infused products, like smoothies, yoghurts, muffins and oat cups. Heyl said the stores were "just another way of getting closer to consumers in SA".-Fin24

Citigroup's board to meet in Singapore

Citigroup Inc said that its board of directors will meet in Singapore for the first time since 2011 as a show of commitment to the city state.

The meeting will be held next week, and Citi's board and executive management team will meet with clients, staff and regulators during their visit to the Asian financial hub, the bank said in a statement.

"The election of Singapore for this year's board meeting signals Citi's intent to invest and grow our business here for years to come," said Tibor Pandi, Singapore Citi country officer.

Singapore has been one of Citi's largest markets globally and is home to one of the bank's four wealth hubs, with staff amounting to some 8,500 in the city-state.

The meeting comes at a time where Singapore has been experiencing a sharp jump in wealth inflows from China, Hong Kong and elsewhere, drawn by its relative political stability, low taxes, and policies favourable for setting up funds.-Reuters

Goldman Sachs agrees to sell GreenSky

Goldman Sachs has agreed to sell GreenSky, its home improvement lender, and associated loans to a consortium led by investment firm Sixth Street Partners, it said on Wednesday.

Goldman did not disclose the value of the deal, but said it will take a charge of 19 cents per share for the third quarter; Goldman will announce earnings on Tuesday. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter, the bank said.

The Wall Street powerhouse bought GreenSky in a deal with a US$1.7 billion valuation last year. The sale is Goldman's latest step in scaling back its retail operations to refocus on its traditional mainstays, investment banking and trading.

"This transaction demonstrates our continued progress in narrowing the focus of our consumer business," Goldman CEO David Solomon said in a statement.

While GreenSky is an "attractive business," Solomon said, the bank is focused on growing its financing activities in banking and markets, while seeking to raise more money and fees from its asset and wealth management arm.

The charge on earnings equates to about US$62 million, according to Reuters calculations based on Goldman Sachs' outstanding shares.-Reuters

Bharti Group to buy AXA's stake in JV

Bharti Group will acquire French insurer AXA's 49% stake in Bharti AXA Life Insurance Co, the Indian conglomerate said on Wednesday, taking full control of a venture that was jointly run for nearly two decades.

It was not immediately clear if the deal marks the French insurer's exit from the South Asian country. Meanwhile, Bharti said it was in talks with other investors to scale up the business by partnering or combining with their entities.

Bharti and AXA did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for additional information on the deal nor did they disclose the financial details.

The sector has seen a spate of deals this year as a booming stock market is helping insurers lock in profits from their investments and consolidate their operations in a market dominated by the state-backed Life Insurance Corporation of India.

British United Provident Association (BUPA) is set to become the majority owner of Niva Bupa Health Insurance after it struck a deal to buy a portion of PE firm True North's stake in the JV.-Reuters

Exxon, Pioneer were key in U$$60 bn deal

Exxon Mobil Corp's resurgence under CEO Darren Woods and the upcoming retirement of Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield were key to the oil major clinching the US$60 billion acquisition, people familiar with the matter said.

After brief informal conversations earlier this year, Exxon approached Pioneer about a deal last month, the sources said. It was from a position of strength. Exxon's shares were hovering near record highs, and it had a cash pile of about US$30 billion.

Sheffield said he was approached by Woods two weeks ago with an offer that was beneficial both to shareholders and Pioneer's employees. The Permian operations will be led by a mix of staff from both companies.

"Darren has been very fair in the negotiations," Sheffield told a small group of reporters.

Woods had already capitalized on elevated energy prices to streamline Exxon's operations and focus on highly profitable oil and gas production.

This allowed Exxon to enter the deal negotiations with its stock coveted by investors as a valuable currency. The stakes were high. The acquisition would turn Exxon into the largest shale producer in the Permian basin, itself the biggest and most lucrative US oilfield.-Reuters

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Katima Mulilo: 9° | 27° Rundu: 10° | 26° Eenhana: 13° | 28° Oshakati: 13° | 27° Ruacana: 12° | 28° Tsumeb: 12° | 24° Otjiwarongo: 9° | 22° Omaruru: 11° | 25° Windhoek: 8° | 20° Gobabis: 8° | 21° Henties Bay: 17° | 31° Wind speed: 37km/h, Wind direction: E, Low tide: 10:52, High tide: 04:51, Low Tide: 23:20, High tide: 17:25 Swakopmund: 18° | 26° Wind speed: 33km/h, Wind direction: SE, Low tide: 10:50, High tide: 04:49, Low Tide: 23:18, High tide: 17:23 Walvis Bay: 19° | 32° Wind speed: 33km/h, Wind direction: SE, Low tide: 10:50, High tide: 04:48, Low Tide: 23:18, High tide: 17:22 Rehoboth: 7° | 21° Mariental: 10° | 23° Keetmanshoop: 12° | 23° Aranos: 9° | 22° Lüderitz: 15° | 31° Ariamsvlei: 12° | 24° Oranjemund: 12° | 19° Luanda: 21° | 23° Gaborone: 10° | 22° Lubumbashi: 9° | 25° Mbabane: 10° | 21° Maseru: 6° | 17° Antananarivo: 11° | 19° Lilongwe: 12° | 25° Maputo: 17° | 26° Windhoek: 8° | 20° Cape Town: 12° | 17° Durban: 14° | 23° Johannesburg: 10° | 18° Dar es Salaam: 21° | 28° Lusaka: 11° | 23° Harare: 10° | 22° Currency: GBP to NAD 22.93 | EUR to NAD 19.43 | CNY to NAD 2.5 | USD to NAD 18.13 | DZD to NAD 0.13 | AOA to NAD 0.02 | BWP to NAD 1.29 | EGP to NAD 0.37 | KES to NAD 0.14 | NGN to NAD 0.01 | ZMW to NAD 0.7 | ZWL to NAD 0.04 | BRL to NAD 3.35 | RUB to NAD 0.21 | INR to NAD 0.22 | USD to DZD 134.06 | USD to AOA 853.63 | USD to BWP 13.53 | USD to EGP 48.27 | USD to KES 127.98 | USD to NGN 1479.51 | USD to ZAR 18.13 | USD to ZMW 25.45 | USD to ZWL 321 | Stock Exchange: JSE All Share Index Same 0 | Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) Overall Index 1783.38 Down -0.16% | Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) MASI 13140.91 Up +0.02% | Egyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index 27062.37 Up +2.44% | Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) DCI Same 0 | NSX: MTC 7.75 SAME | Anirep 8.99 SAME | Capricorn Investment group 17.34 SAME | FirstRand Namibia Ltd 49 DOWN 0.50% | Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Ltd 4.1 UP 2.50% | Namibia Asset Management Ltd 0.7 SAME | Namibia Breweries Ltd 31.49 UP 0.03% | Nictus Holdings - Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 331.71/OZ UP +0.54% | Copper US$ 4.42/lb UP +0.33% | Zinc US$ 2 857.50/T UP 0.14% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 85.98/BBP UP +1.49% | Platinum US$ 994.99/OZ UP +0.95% Sport results: Weather: Katima Mulilo: 9° | 27° Rundu: 10° | 26° Eenhana: 13° | 28° Oshakati: 13° | 27° Ruacana: 12° | 28° Tsumeb: 12° | 24° Otjiwarongo: 9° | 22° Omaruru: 11° | 25° Windhoek: 8° | 20° Gobabis: 8° | 21° Henties Bay: 17° | 31° Wind speed: 37km/h, Wind direction: E, Low tide: 10:52, High tide: 04:51, Low Tide: 23:20, High tide: 17:25 Swakopmund: 18° | 26° Wind speed: 33km/h, Wind direction: SE, Low tide: 10:50, High tide: 04:49, Low Tide: 23:18, High tide: 17:23 Walvis Bay: 19° | 32° Wind speed: 33km/h, Wind direction: SE, Low tide: 10:50, High tide: 04:48, Low Tide: 23:18, High tide: 17:22 Rehoboth: 7° | 21° Mariental: 10° | 23° Keetmanshoop: 12° | 23° Aranos: 9° | 22° Lüderitz: 15° | 31° Ariamsvlei: 12° | 24° Oranjemund: 12° | 19° Luanda: 21° | 23° Gaborone: 10° | 22° Lubumbashi: 9° | 25° Mbabane: 10° | 21° Maseru: 6° | 17° Antananarivo: 11° | 19° Lilongwe: 12° | 25° Maputo: 17° | 26° Windhoek: 8° | 20° Cape Town: 12° | 17° Durban: 14° | 23° Johannesburg: 10° | 18° Dar es Salaam: 21° | 28° Lusaka: 11° | 23° Harare: 10° | 22° Economic Indicators: Currency: GBP to NAD 22.93 | EUR to NAD 19.43 | CNY to NAD 2.5 | USD to NAD 18.13 | DZD to NAD 0.13 | AOA to NAD 0.02 | BWP to NAD 1.29 | EGP to NAD 0.37 | KES to NAD 0.14 | NGN to NAD 0.01 | ZMW to NAD 0.7 | ZWL to NAD 0.04 | BRL to NAD 3.35 | RUB to NAD 0.21 | INR to NAD 0.22 | USD to DZD 134.06 | USD to AOA 853.63 | USD to BWP 13.53 | USD to EGP 48.27 | USD to KES 127.98 | USD to NGN 1479.51 | USD to ZAR 18.13 | USD to ZMW 25.45 | USD to ZWL 321 | Stock Exchange: JSE All Share Index Same 0 | Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) Overall Index 1783.38 Down -0.16% | Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) MASI 13140.91 Up +0.02% | Egyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index 27062.37 Up +2.44% | Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) DCI Same 0 | NSX: MTC 7.75 SAME | Anirep 8.99 SAME | Capricorn Investment group 17.34 SAME | FirstRand Namibia Ltd 49 DOWN 0.50% | Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Ltd 4.1 UP 2.50% | Namibia Asset Management Ltd 0.7 SAME | Namibia Breweries Ltd 31.49 UP 0.03% | Nictus Holdings - Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 331.71/OZ UP +0.54% | Copper US$ 4.42/lb UP +0.33% | Zinc US$ 2 857.50/T UP 0.14% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 85.98/BBP UP +1.49% | Platinum US$ 994.99/OZ UP +0.95%