Africa

Steinhoff International Holdings NV is seeking another extension to restructure almost $12 billion of debt as the retailer strives to keep shop doors open and increase the value of some of its assets, Bloomberg News reported. The South African retailer will probably miss a June 30 deadline for agreeing a debt deal, the owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the U.S. said in its 2018 annual report published late Tuesday. Steinhoff needs time to prepare some divisions for an eventual sale that will enable it to repay creditors, the company said.

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A Kenyan parliamentary committee on Tuesday recommended nationalising Kenya Airways as part of an effort to turn around the loss-making airline, Reuters reported. The transport, public works and housing committee also proposed setting up of an aviation holding company with four subsidiaries, one of which would run Kenya Airways, which is 48.9% owned by the state and 7.8% by Air France-KLM. Under the proposals, which still need to be debated and voted on by parliament, another arm of the holding company would operate Nairobi’s main international airport.

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Kenya will more than double its capital gains tax rate to 12.5% from 5% to bring it in line with international standards, Finance Minister Henry Rotich said in budget proposals to parliament on Thursday, Reuters reported. Analysts said the move showed the government had opted to squeeze already hard-pressed taxpayers, rather than cut expenditure, to make ends meet. “They are basically trying to get more and more out of a small tax base,” said Kenneth Minjire, head of securities at Nairobi-based Genghis Capital.

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Sub-Saharan African states have borrowed so much money since the debt forgiveness programmes earlier this century that they risk falling back into financial distress, Fitch warned today, the Financial TImes reported. However, the rating agency argued that multilateral debt relief had not been squandered, as some have argued, because it has “delivered lasting benefits” in the form of faster economic growth and improvements in measures of human development.

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South Africa’s Competition Tribunal ordered antitrust investigators to clarify charges of currency manipulation against more than 20 banks, drawing out a four-year legal battle, Reuters reported. The Tribunal, which oversees antitrust cases, found deficiencies in referrals prepared by the Competition Commission and gave the body 40 days to redraft its accusations, according to a statement on Wednesday. However, it also rejected attempts by banks to dismiss the case.

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Glencore has hoisted the “for sale” sign over the Chad-focused oil business it acquired five years ago as the miner and commodity trader looks to bolster a share buyback programme by selling non-core assets, The Irish Times reported. The London-listed group, run by Ivan Glasenberg, bought Caracal Energy for $1.6 billion (€1.4 billion) in 2014 as part of a plan to grow its African oil business and secure barrels for its muscular trading arm. However, the deal was completed just before oil prices peaked and Glencore was subsequently forced to take a series of impairment charges.

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Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. should quit coal-fired generation over the next 20 years, Greenpeace Africa said, even as the beleaguered South African power utility presses ahead with new plants, Bloomberg News reported. Such a shift would require a massive overhaul at Eskom since coal-fed power is the backbone of its fleet, with two new stations currently under construction. But the debt-strapped utility, which supplies more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity, is under fire from environmental groups who claim it’s far from ready for the global transition to cleaner fuels.

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A Lusaka court said on Tuesday a hearing had been provisionally set for June 20 to consider an application by Vedanta Resources to be represented by its own lawyers in proceedings to wind up its Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) business in Zambia, lawyers said, Reuters reported. Vedanta Resources is challenging the appointment of a provisional liquidator without being given the chance to be heard through lawyers of its choice. The company said in a statement on Tuesday the court would confirm on June 17 whether it would go ahead with a hearing on Vedanta’s application on June 20.

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Cyril Ramaphosa’s uphill battle to revive Africa’s most industrialised economy has grown steeper after his ruling African National Congress spooked markets with an attack on the independence of the central bank, the Financial Times reported. South Africa’s economy is already skirting with recession and threats to growth are festering problems for the president after the ANC returned to power in elections in May.

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Kenya Airways plans to double its fleet over the next five years, its chairman said on Monday, as the loss-making carrier combats regional rivals like Ethiopian. The Kenyan airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% by Air France-KLM, restructured $2 billion of debt in 2017 and is opening new routes as it seeks to return to profit, Reuters reported. It had a fleet of 41 airplanes at the end of last year, comprising a mix of wide and narrow body Boeing planes, compared with Ethiopian which operates more than 100 planes.

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