Company news in brief

11 September 2019 | Sakenuus
Moody’s cited lack of clarity Eskom

A delay and lack of clarity about South Africa's plan to break up ailing state-owned power utility Eskom to make it financially viable is the main example of policy uncertainty hampering the country's turnaround, credit rating firm Moody's said yesterday.

"At the moment the issue that most illustrates that [policy uncertainty] is Eskom and what is the strategic plan to turn around the company, said Moody's lead analyst for South Africa Lucie Villa at press briefing in Johannesburg.

"For us the key is to understand what is the official plan that all key stakeholders agree to. That everybody is on the same page with. If that were the case we would have something credible and visibility about the long term strategy." – Nampa/Reuters

Kenya's Equity wants DRC bank

Kenyan lender Equity Group said on Monday it was in talks with some of Banque Commerciale du Congo's (BCDC) shareholders to buy a controlling stake for cash, stepping up its expansion in Africa.

Equity already has a subsidiary in DR Congo, which is one of the biggest countries on the continent by land mass and has more than 80 million people, making it appealing to ambitious lenders in regional states looking for growth.

The Kenyan bank did not identify the BCDC shareholders or the size of the proposed deal. A combination would create the country's second largest bank with assets of more than US$1 billion, said Nairobi-based analyst George Bodo.

The DR Congo market is mainly focused on serving big companies with operations there, making it necessary to have a big balance sheet to be able to compete and grow Bodo said.

In April, Equity bolstered its African presence by announcing the purchase of shares in banks in Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, buying the assets of London-listed financial services firm Atlas Mara. – Nampa/Reuters

Aramco: Domestic IPO is primary one

Saudi Aramco's chief executive, Amin Nasser, said yesterday a domestic IPO of the state oil giant would be the primary listing but that it was also ready for an international offering.

Nasser, speaking to reporters, cited the kingdom's new energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman as saying that an initial public offering would happen "very soon", but added that the ultimate decision on timing and venue rested with the government.

Saudi Arabia plans a gradual listing of Aramco on its domestic market, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday, as it moves ahead with the process and finalises the roles banks will play in the offering of the world's biggest oil company.

Nasser welcomed the appointment earlier this month of the head of the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund PIF as Aramco's new chairman, Yasser al-Rumayyan, saying he brings "a lot of riches" to the board with his experience in the financial sector.

Rumayyan took over from former energy minister Khalid al-Falih as chairman in a move to separate Aramco from the ministry, a step Saudi officials have said was important to pave the way for the IPO. – Nampa/Reuters

Apple may spark upgrade rush

Apple Inc could sell as many as 200 million of its latest iPhones from existing users upgrading their older devices and much of that demand will come from China despite an ongoing trade war, several Wall Street analysts said on Monday.

The Cupertino, California-based company was widely expected to launch three new iPhones yesterday, featuring upgraded processors and new camera functionality, along with a video streaming service that will take on the likes of Netflix Inc and Walt Disney.

The upgrade cycle could translate into roughly 180 million iPhone units sold in the next 12 months with roughly 60 million to 70 million consumers due for an upgrade in China, where Apple struggled with its last launch, Wedbush analysts said.

Apple currently has about 900 million active iPhones globally and the combination of slack sales for its iPhone X launches since 2017 and relatively tight control of pricing may spur demand from users who have been holding out previously, several analysts said.

Apple's 2020 fiscal year starts from October and none of the brokerages expected it to launch a 5G-enabled iPhone this time round - in contrast to recent 5G mobile launches by Samsung Electronics and China's OnePlus. – Nampa/Reuters

WeWork IPO valuation likely below US$20 bn

WeWork owner The We Company is weighing slashing the valuation of its forthcoming IPO to below US$20 billion, two sources said, in the latest headwind for leading shareholder SoftBank Group whose key group portfolio firms have tumbled in value.

The valuation for the money-losing US office-sharing startup could be as low as US$15 billion-US$18 billion, one of the sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. The other source said the valuation was unlikely to be as low as that.

SoftBank, whose US$100 billion Vision Fund is widely seen as having contributed to frothy tech valuations, has urged WeWork to shelve the IPO due to tepid investor demand, the Financial Times reported. SoftBank declined to comment.

But the tech conglomerate's reluctance to pump further funds into WeWork means the startup "may have no choice but to push ahead with the IPO at a much lower than anticipated valuation," one of the sources said.

WeWork's planned listing follows weak initial trading at other startups including Uber Technologies Inc and Slack Technologies Inc, both backed by SoftBank. – Nampa/Reuters

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