Africa

South Africa’s finance minister said the nation’s troubled flag-carrier should be shut down, casting doubt on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stated goal of saving what was once Africa’s biggest airline, the Financial Times reported. South African Airways “is lossmaking, it’s unlikely to sort out the situation, in my view we should close it down”, said Tito Mboweni, an outspoken former central bank governor, at an event with investors in New York on Thursday.

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Steinhoff International Holdings NV is considering the sale of properties within French furniture chain Conforama, the latest move by the embattled retailer to shore up its balance sheet, according to people familiar with the matter. The value of the portfolio is about 800 million euros ($907 million), said the people, who asked not to be named as the information isn’t public, Bloomberg News reported. The properties are held outside European real-estate subsidiary Hemisphere, which is disposing of assets as part of a debt-restructuring deal, they said.

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The International Monetary Fund said it wants assurances from the Republic of Congo’s creditors about how the nation’s debt will be restructured before it considers a bailout, Bloomberg News reported. The debt-laden country has been trying to secure a bailout since last year from the IMF, which has asked the government to curb rampant corruption and divulge the assets of high-level officials before providing any support. Oil-producing Congo’s economy has contracted for the past two years and it owes creditors at least 5.31 trillion CFA francs ($9.2 billion).

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The National Treasury allocated 5 billion rand ($350 million) to help South African Airways to repay debt, but said the state-owned airline will have to engage with creditors to restructure almost double that amount, Bloomberg News reported. SAA has 14.2 billion rand of repayments due by March, the Treasury said in its mid-term budget statement Wednesday. The company “is not generating sufficient cash to repay its total debt, and will have to negotiate with lenders to refinance or extend maturity dates,’’ it said.

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Creditors of Kenya’s ARM Cement, once the country’s second-largest cement maker but which has been in administration since August, approved on Tuesday the sale of a subsidiary or assets to reduce its debt of $190 million, Reuters reported. The creditors did not identify which subsidiary or assets would be sold, or the possible value of a sale, under Tuesday’s rescue plan, during which the company will remain operational. George Weru, one of the co-administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), told Reuters they had 12 months to rescue the company.

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The administrator of Kenya’s debt-laden ARM Cement will ask its creditors for support to keep the company running by selling some of ARM’s assets to cut debt, as well as a plan to engage with financiers for working capital, Reuters reported. George Weru, a co-administrator for the cement firm, told Reuters the proposals will be put to the company’s creditors on Tuesday when they meet to chart the best way forward. The company was put into administration in August by some of its creditors and its shares suspended from the Nairobi bourse.

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Steinhoff said on Wednesday investors who are suing the crisis-hit firm had agreed to suspend litigation until next year, allowing the retailer time to focus on its recovery, Reuters reported. The lawsuit brought in the Netherlands was aimed at compensating investors for the more than 14 billion euros ($16 billion) wiped off Steinhoff’s market value since the retailer uncovered accounting irregularities last year. Steinhoff said the suspension of legal proceedings would be until April 3, 2019.

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The Nigerian government faces a daunting challenge to close a shortage of 17 million houses, Bloomberg News reported. Gripped by poverty, Nigeria has no formalized title-deeds registry and most homes consist of informal structures on land passed down through generations. Rapid urbanization is also causing a proliferation of slums and shanty towns. Buhari’s drive to clear a backlog of mortgage applications comes ahead of a tough re-election bid next year and as the economy struggles to recover from 2016’s contraction.

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Banks that arranged billions of dollars of loans to government companies in Mozambique have proposed to restructure some of the now-defaulted debt, as the government of President Filipe Nyusi struggles to relieve financial pressure on Mozambique’s economy, The Wall Street Journal reported. Credit Suisse Group AG proposed the deal in recent weeks on behalf of a group of institutions holding a loan that the Swiss lender and Russia’s Bank VTB Group arranged in secret for a Mozambican government-owned company five years ago, people familiar with the matter said.

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South African retailer Steinhoff, has asked creditors for a one-month extension relating to its debt restructuring as it negotiates documents required to implement the plan, it said on Monday. An accounting scandal wiped more than 90 percent off Steinhoff’s market value and forced it to sell assets to generate working capital. Creditors agreed in July to hold off on their debt claims for three years, throwing the company a lifeline, Reuters reported. As part of the deal, all parties sought to start restructuring within three months of the lock-up agreement date of July 20.

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