Africa

Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines (kCM) smelter was on Wednesday shut down for annual maintenance two days earlier than planned after a leak, the provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu said, Reuters reported. Lungu said the smelter, which was scheduled to undergo annual maintentance for 35 days starting on Friday, would now remain shut for 37 days until Nov 15 when output would resume. “There was a leak and hot copper touched water creating steam. We have therefore decided to shut down the smelter for annual maintenance two days ahead of schedule,” Lungu said.

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Renaissance Capital, which has correctly predicted eight out of nine sovereign rating decisions in emerging Europe and the Middle East since May, is calling a downgrade to junk for South Africa next month, Bloomberg News reported. That view is at odds with the majority in the Bloomberg survey, but Renaissance Global Chief Economist Charles Robertson says South Africa’s fundamentals have deteriorated significantly since May, when Moody’s Investors Service affirmed its Baa3 rating. The next review is on Nov. 1.

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KCB Group Plc is pursuing defaulters as Kenya’s biggest lender combines recently purchased National Bank of Kenya Ltd. into its operations, Bloomberg News reported. “You’ll see more actions, more demand letters going after our customers” who aren’t repaying loans, KCB Chief Executive Officer Joshua Oigara said on the sidelines of a conference in Nairobi last week. “Next year is the real recovery period for the loans we have for NBK.” The acquisition of state-owned NBK, which has 49% of its loans classified as non-performing, will almost double KCB’s ratio of bad debts to 12%.

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South Africa’s Tongaat Hulett, which has been battling to restore investors’ confidence after announcing in April it would have to restate prior financial reports, has postponed its results statement for the latest full year, it said on Monday, Reuters reported. Audited financial statements for the year to March 31 will not now be available by the previously anticipated date of Oct. 31, Tongaat said in a statement, adding that it will update shareholders on a new release date on Nov. 18.

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Ivorian banks saddled with unpaid debts of around $250 million by the bankruptcy of former top exporter SAF-Cacao are pleased with progress after the acquisition of its assets by Societe Agricole du Cafe-Cacao (SACC), sources at the banks said, Reuters reported. SAF-Cacao, formerly the largest cocoa exporter in southwestern Ivory Coast, was liquidated in mid-2018 after defaulting on debt in the wake of a disastrous 2016/17 season, when world cocoa prices fell 40%.

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South Africa’s public debt could rise as high as 95% of gross domestic product by 2024 if the government doesn’t restructure the state-run utility Eskom and implement a workable growth plan, the Institute of International Finance said in report, Reuters reported. The report, released late on Wednesday, echoes a warning on Tuesday by the central bank about ballooning government debt, which has doubled from less than 30% of GDP before the 2008 global financial crisis to nearly 60%. The 95% estimate is the worst of four outlooks the IIF report laid out.

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Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s stand-alone credit profile was downgraded one notch at Fitch Ratings, signaling the South African power utility’s deteriorating ability to repay debt without additional government support, Bloomberg News reported. Weakening revenue growth, profit-margin compression because of lower tariff increases, and higher primary energy costs were cited by Fitch as among the reasons for the reduction. Eskom’s poor liquidity and high debt levels are the worst among its peers, which includes Namibia Power Corp., Fitch said in a statement on Monday.

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A fleet of supercars said to have been seized by the Swiss authorities in a money-laundering investigation from the son of the leader of Equatorial Guinea was auctioned on Sunday in Switzerland, the International New York Times reported. The vehicles were among 25 luxury cars sold for more than $27 million at Bonhams auction house, according to The Associated Press, in what Bonhams called a “very special sale.” Beforehand, the cars had been estimated to bring in more than 12 million euros, or $13 million.

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Kenya’s loss-making Mumias Sugar Company has been placed under receivership to protect its assets and maintain its operations, local lender KCB Group said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. “The Bank has appointed Mr. PVR Rao (Tact Consultancy Services) as the sugar company’s receiver manager,” KCB said in a statement, giving no more details. Mumias, which used to be the East African nation’s leading producer at more than 250,000 tonnes a year, has been beset by poor management and mounting losses in recent years.

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Kenya Airways must avoid picking a board packed with politically-connected individuals after it is renationalized in order to ensure future success, its chairman said on Tuesday. The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, was privatized 23 years ago but sank into debt and losses in 2014, Reuters reported. Lawmakers voted to re-nationalize it in July. Chairman Michael Joseph said the requirement for professionals to be put in charge of the airline is being built into draft laws that will guide the renationalization.

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