Africa

The administrators of South African Airways (SAA) hope to hand control of the business back to management by the end of the month, the state-owned airline said in a letter to affected parties seen by Reuters. SAA has been under a form of bankruptcy protection since December 2019, and its fortunes worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. All operations were mothballed in September 2020 when funds ran low. The letter, dated March 18, said SAA’s board of directors and management were working on a plan to resume flights, without giving a date when that might happen.
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Unemployment in Africa’s largest economy surged to the second highest on a global list of countries monitored by Bloomberg. The jobless rate in Nigeria rose to 33.3% in the three months through December, according to a report published by National Bureau of Statistics on its website Monday. That’s up from 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020, the last period for which the agency released labor-force statistics.
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Nigeria plans increased use of sovereign guarantees to fund infrastructure in a bid to reduce the need for raising debt for such projects, Bloomberg News reported. Africa’s largest economy will raise the value of these assurances to 5% of gross domestic product from 1.5% in 2019, Patience Oniha, head of the Debt Management Office, said at a conference in Lagos on Thursday. Nigeria’s public debt, including central bank overdrafts, as a proportion of GDP at 34.4% in 2020, is relatively low compared to peers.
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Nigeria’s state oil company ruled out higher gasoline prices this month, less than a day after the fuel regulator signaled the first increase since November, Bloomberg News reported. The reversal means that government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s sole importer of gasoline, will continue to bear the cost of subsidizing fuel in Africa’s biggest economy. It’s the second time in as many weeks that policy makers have sent out contradictory signals, after the central bank on March 4 set aside plans announced by one of its officials to bar foreigners from some debt auctions.
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Ghana will begin a roadshow next week to raise $5 billion from the international capital markets, as it seeks to close its 2021 budget financing gap, Bloomberg News reported. The nation wants to start marketing the debt to investors after Friday’s budget presentation, a Ministry of Finance official said by phone on Tuesday. The meetings would be held virtually due to coronavirus restrictions, said the official. This would be the first time Ghana will hold virtual meetings with investors prior to an international debt sale.

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A U.S. judge on Wednesday quashed a bid to widen the scope of a civil lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that accused miner Rio Tinto of fraud at its Mozambican coal business, a court filing showed, Reuters reported. The SEC filed a complaint against Rio in 2017 with allegations that it had fraudulently concealed the decline in value of the business. Rio had acquired Riversdale mining for $3.7 billion in 2011, on the premise it would be able to barge 30 million tonnes of coal per year down the Zambezi river, and rail a further 12-15 million tonnes of coal per year to port.
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Member countries of the World Trade Organization are aiming to resurrect a dormant system for resolving trade disputes that has been a point of friction between the U.S. and other nations, the Wall Street Journal reported. The WTO’s Appellate Body, the apex of the Geneva-based group’s dispute-settlement system, has been effectively shut down since 2019 after the Trump administration blocked the appointment of new judges. U.S. complaints about the system, which predate the Trump presidency, center on Appellate Body rulings against tariffs and other remedies, limiting what U.S.

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Lawyers representing defunct Belgian airline ChallengeAir moved on Friday to seize Air Namibia’s headquarters after the state carrier failed to honour a 10 million euro ($12.14 million) settlement agreement reached last month to save it from liquidation, Reuters reported. Air Namibia survived liquidation attempts by creditor ChallengeAir SA in January when the two firms reached the settlement agreement minutes before liquidation proceedings were due to kick off.
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Nedbank Group Ltd. is leading discussions to restructure South African power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s 464 billion ($32 billion) debt load, Bloomberg News reported. The parties met in recent days, and one of the options is to transfer at least 100 billion rand of debt to a special-purpose vehicle that would be overseen by the Public Investment Corp., Africa’s biggest fund manager.
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