Africa

Sasol Ltd. agreed to sell a 30% stake in a natural gas pipeline running from Mozambique to South Africa for as much as 5.1 billion rand ($361 million) in order to pay down debt, Bloomberg News reported. The deal rounds out an accelerated asset-sale program that has helped Sasol reduce borrowings that ballooned amid cost overruns at a giant U.S. chemicals project and call off a proposed $2 billion share sale. The company started hunting for a buyer for its pipeline shares last year as it examined ways to bolster its finances amid mounting pressure from creditors.
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CDC Group, the U.K. government’s development investment arm, is taking a step to help bridge what it estimates is a funding gap of as much as $31 billion that Africa’s agriculture and food industry faces each year, Bloomberg News reported. The 73-year-old institution is channeling $100 million to small-holder African farmers through export and trading company ETG, and is seeking other partners to help it deploy more capital to the sector.
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Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said the South African state utility is unable to agree to certain union demands over wage increases and declined to make an offer on basic salary until labor groups respond, Bloomberg News reported. The loss-making electricity provider “cannot afford” proposals such as an improvement in pay inequality, according to a May 4 letter reviewed by Bloomberg. A request by unions to raise worker housing allowance has “no justification” and the required funds aren’t available in any case, the company said.
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South Africa's struggling national airline South African Airways (SAA) on Friday exited a local form of bankruptcy protection called business rescue after roughly 17 months, Reuters reported. SAA was placed under administration in December 2019, and its long-standing financial woes worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. All operations were mothballed in September 2020. Its administrators said in a statement that they had filed a notice of "substantial implementation" of a business rescue plan with South Africa's Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.
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Zambia, which defaulted on payments to bondholders in November, is doubling down on debt with a high-stakes bet that nationalizing one of its biggest copper mines will help rescue its flailing economy,  The Wall Street Journal reported. Once seen as among the most investment-friendly countries in the region, the landlocked nation in south central Africa is the most extreme example of a wave of populist governments in mining-dependent countries that are struggling to pay the bills after borrowing for infrastructure in recent years.

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Mango Airlines, the low-cost arm of state-owned South African Airways, was forced to suspend all flights after missing payments to the country’s airports regulator, Bloomberg reported. The carrier is barred from taking off or landing at any Airports Company South Africa site, which includes the main hubs in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The grounding is an indication of the deteriorating financial position at Mango. The company has been hit by the coronavirus crisis that’s hammered the airline industry, forcing bailouts and pushing some carriers into insolvency.

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The Nigerian federal and state governments need to cut back spending to deal with a drop in revenues instead of depending on the central bank for financing, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said on Monday, Bloomberg News reported. Ahmed denied claims by a state governor that the central bank printed money to make up a 50 billion naira ($122 million) shortfall on federal revenues earmarked for the 36 federal states in March. “We will make sure that we don’t have to do that,” Ahmed said in an interview with the National Television Authority.
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African trade contracted 11.9% in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions to curb its spread pushed the continent into its first recession in a quarter of a century, according to a new report, according to Bloomberg News. “Although the contraction was synchronized across the whole region, the greatest impact was on economies dependent on tourism and commodities,” African Export-Import Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership of the African Development Bank said in the report.
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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is considering changing the ministries responsible for some of its biggest state-owned companies, including power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., to better align them with their functions, Bloomberg News reported. Eskom, arms manufacturer Denel SOC Ltd., South African Airways Ltd. and other entities are currently the responsibility of the Department of Public Enterprises, headed by Pravin Gordhan. Eskom may be transfered to the minerals and energy ministry, under Gwede Mantashe, the people said.
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The speed of Djibouti’s economic recovery from a contraction last year hinges on how soon conflict ends in neighboring Ethiopia, Finance Minister Ilyas Dawaleh said, Bloomberg News reported. “The recent and escalating conflict in Ethiopia is worsening prospects for regional peace, trade and undermines regional cooperation,” Dawaleh said in an emailed response to questions on April 10.
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