Company news in brief

11 February 2019 | Sakenuus
RioZim again suspends production over dollar payments

Zimbabwean gold miner RioZim said on Friday it had suspended production at its three mines for the second time in four months because the central bank had failed to pay it in US dollars for part of its gold deliveries.

Gold producers in the southern African country sell their output to central bank subsidiary Fidelity Printers and Refiners and are supposed to be paid 55% of their earnings in US dollars. The remainder is paid via electronic dollars into their bank accounts.

RioZim, which is 95% owned by local shareholders, is Zimbabwe's second biggest gold producer and last October threatened legal action to force the Reserve Bank to pay it more US dollars for part of its output.

The company said it continued to engage the Reserve Bank but if negotiations failed, it would shut its mines indefinitely.

Mines minister Winston Chitando said on Monday Mangudya would soon introduce a monetary policy tool to alleviate the foreign currency shortages that have affected miners. – Nampa/Reuters

Total's SA discovery could hold 1 bln barrels oil equivalent

French oil and gas major Total's South African offshore discovery could contain 1 billion barrels of total resources and is "probably quite big", CEO Patrick Pouyanne said on Thursday.

Total said it had made a significant gas condensate discovery after drilling its Brulpadda prospects on Block 11B/12B in the Outeniqua Basin.

"It is gas condensate and light oil. Mainly gas. There are four other prospects on the licence that we have to drill; it could be around 1 billion barrels of total resources of gas and condensate," Pouyanne said.

South Africa wants to build its gas network and has previously mentioned the possibility of importing LNG from Mozambique, where a gas pipeline already supplies most of the gas South Africa uses to power its industrial heartland in the north.

The proximity of the find to Mossel Bay's gas-to-liquid plant is also a boon, said national oil and gas company PetroSA. – Nampa/Reuters

Mattel posts surprise profit

Mattel Inc posted a surprise fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, as the toymaker benefited from a makeover of its iconic Barbie doll, while keeping a tight lid on costs, sending its shares soaring 19% in extended trading.

Barbie ended the year with its highest gross sales in five years, Mattel said, highlighting the company's success in diversifying the traditionally blonde doll by giving it different skin tones and dressing it in attires ranging from hijabs to space suits.

Gross sales rose 12% for Barbie and 9% for Hot Wheels in the fourth quarter, handily beating analysts' estimates for both brands.

The company also benefited from its plans to streamline its operations, with costs falling 27% to US$814.7 million in the quarter.

Mattel has been aiming to cut at least US$650 million in net costs by the end of 2019 through job cuts and other measures such as looking at options for its manufacturing facilities. – Nampa/Reuters

Barclays to shift some sales jobs to Paris

Barclays is shifting some jobs in its London-based credit and equity derivatives sales teams to Paris as it reorganises its operations ahead of Brexit, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Last month the bank warned staff in charge of credit and equity derivatives sales for the Nordics that their jobs would be relocated to Paris by the end of March, giving them just two months' notice, one of the sources said.

A spokesman for Barclays declined to comment.

The likelihood of a no-deal Brexit has increased substantially since British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for maintaining ties with the EU was rejected on January 15 by the UK parliament as well as by many politicians in her own Conservative Party.

Many financial institutions have started putting Brexit contingency plans into action and moving staff to newly leased offices in Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and other financial hubs on the continent. – Nampa/Reuters

Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank merger talk ‘speculation’

German finance minister Olaf Scholz said on Friday he was in talks with banks about their future and called reports of a merger of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank "speculation".

Media reports have said Germany would want a merger of its two main banks to go through before European Parliament elections in May.

Scholz said he couldn't imagine what the elections have to do with the banking sector and was speculation that he could not understand.

"The truth is we are discussing the situation of the financial industry in Germany, it's the task of our government," Scholz told a Bloomberg event in London.

"We are discussing about clearing, we discuss about the development of the banking sector. We are debating whether the different banks, about their situation, for being able to do the necessary things when something needs to be done." – Nampa/Reuters

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