Company news in brief

13 September 2019 | Sakenuus
Distell accuses merger of breach

South Africa's Competition Tribunal on Wednesday said it was looking into allegations by South African alcoholic drinks firm Distell Group that the entity formed from the 2016 merger of the world's largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev with SABMiller breached merger conditions.

AB InBev and SABMiller were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

Distell approached the Competition Commission with allegations that the merged entity removed competitors' advertising material from retail outlets, among others, the tribunal said in a statement, adding that the Commission found there was no breach.

Distell has now asked for a detailed review and for a full investigation to be conducted, the competition regulator said.

SABMiller argues that Distell's complaint is an "attempt to restrict competition and is unrelated to the merger conditions" and that the complaints "have no merit and should be dismissed," the tribunal added. – Nampa/Reuters

Aspen posts lower FY profit

South African drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare Holdings said on Wednesday full-year core normalised earnings fell by 4% due to a lower contribution from its manufacturing business and it will not pay a dividend this year.

The firm said it aimed to reduce debt levels from the 2020 financial year. Investors have been concerned about Aspen's rising debt in the last year after levels moved close to breaching debt covenants.

Its shares have tumbled more than 70% since September 2018.

Normalised earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) declined to R10.8 billion in the full year from a restated R11.2 billion, the firm said in a statement. The figure is in constant exchange rates. In reported rates, EBITDA fell 2%.

Aspen, which also operates in Europe, trimmed debt to R39 billion from R53.5 billion, thanks mostly to cash proceeds from disposal of its infant formula business and a portfolio of products distributed in Asia Pacific in the second half. – Nampa/Reuters

BAT plans to cut 2 300 jobs

British American Tobacco Plc said on yesterday it would lay off 2 300 employees globally by January as the world's second largest tobacco company by sales looks to streamline its operations.

The company said the move would impact over 20% of its senior roles as it takes steps to eliminate duplicate roles in its aim to create fewer but larger business units among other things.

"My goal is to oversee a step change in New Category growth and significantly simplify our current ways of working and business processes," chief executive officer Jack Bowles said in a statement.

The "New Category" business includes brands like vuse for e-cigarettes, velo - a nicotine pouch for the gums and glo for tobacco heating devices. – Nampa/Reuters

InBev set to revive Budweiser Asia IPO

The world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which shelved a Hong Kong IPO of its Asia Pacific unit in July, is planning to raise about US$5 billion from a revived float, people with knowledge of the matter said.

AB InBev, which had aimed to raise as much as US$9.8 billion in the IPO of Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd to help with its heavy debt burden, aims to re-launch the float as soon as next week, the sources said.

AB InBev said in a statement that it was continuing to explore an IPO in Hong Kong of Budweiser APAC.

The listing would be a boost for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange after Reuters reported last month that China's biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd had delayed a listing in Hong Kong worth up to US$15 billion amid growing political unrest in the Asian financial hub.

The development also comes after Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd announced a US$39 billion takeover approach to the London Stock Exchange Plc on Wednesday that received a cool response from investors concerned about regulatory and financial hurdles. – Nampa/Reuters

Huawei plans yuan bond issue

Huawei Technologies parent said in regulatory filings on Wednesday that it plans to issue two tranches of 3 billion yuan (US$422 million) bonds, each with three-year maturities.

Huawei Investment Holdings says it will use the funds to replenish working capital and invest in core businesses such as ICT infrastructure.

No issuance dates were given in the prospectus, which shows Huawei has applied for approval to raise a total of 20 billion yuan in the programme. – Nampa/Reuters

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