Friday, 09 February 2018

Russian fertiliser producers Uralchem and Uralkali plan to boost sales in southeast Africa, their co-owner Dmitry Mazepin said on Thursday, after meeting the leaders of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Rising commodity prices and dramatic political change in the region have vastly improved the investment mood in the mining sector this year, a meeting of industry leaders in Cape Town showed this week.

Uralchem and Uralkali plan to create a hub in the two countries that will directly supply mineral fertilisers, the firms said in a statement after co-owner Mazepin met Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu.

They expect demand for the product to grow rapidly in the next few years.

Fertiliser demand is on the up in Zambia as it tries to diversify its economy away from copper mining to agriculture, but the nation still imports most of its fertiliser from South Africa.

Zimbabwe struggled to feed its population between 2001 and 2016, a situation often blamed on the government and its seizure of businesses owned by white farmers.

This move depressed commercial agricultural output, while a lack of funding for farmers to purchase adequate fertiliser, coupled with drought, also hit production of the staple maize crop.

The country is short on foreign currency needed to import fertilisers such as ammonia, while its own domestic production remains low.

Cooperation with the two Russian companies will allow Zambia and Zimbabwe to reduce prices for their farmers, who are currently forced to buy fertilisers from intermediaries at a cost of $450 to $500 per tonne, Mazepin said.

Russia is able to offer mineral fertilisers in the global market, including at African ports, at $250 to $300 per tonne, Mazepin added. He is the owner of privately held Uralchem, which holds a stake in Uralkali.

According to him, in the short term, Uralchem and Uralkali may boost supplies of their fertiliser products in southeast Africa by 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes a year from the current 100,000 tonnes.

Mazepin also said Zimbabwe’s president had invited the Russian companies to supply fertiliser and participate in mining projects.

“Certainly, we are interested. When we get guarantees of stable business development at such high level, it is very important to us,” he said.

Reporting by Polina Devitt, MacDonald Dzirutwe and Chris Mfula; Editing by Dale Hudson and Polina Ivanova (Reuters)

Published in Agriculture
Friday, 09 February 2018 07:50

Nigeria: MTN seeks $500M in Nigeria IPO

MTN Group plans to raise around $500 million through an IPO of its Nigerian unit, as part of a deal struck with the country’s regulators to settle a $1.7 billion fine, Bloomberg reported.

The operator is exploring the disposal of as much as 30 per cent of the business, which it will list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Shares will be sold mainly to local institutions and individudals, but non-domestic investors may be included in the process to ensure the IPO is a success, a source told Bloomberg.

MTN is being advised by Standard Bank Group and Citigroup and discussions are still ongoing.

The South Africa-based company, which is the largest operator in Nigeria, faced scrutiny in the country after being hit with a $1.7 billion fine in 2015 for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers, violating a security measure designed to crackdown on crime and terrorism.

It then agreed to conduct an IPO as part of its settlement with Nigerian regulators and met with the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission in November 2016 to discuss the process.

Last month, MTN predicted improved annual earnings for 2017, as it bounces back from a net loss of ZAR3.1 billion ($255 million) in 2016 (its first such loss in 20 years).

In a stock market statement issued ahead of the release of its annual results in March, the company said earnings will improve due to the resolution of problems in Nigeria.

Published in Telecoms

Nigeria is close to establishing a new national carrier, the Nigeria Airways, that would be private-sector driven, Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika said on Thursday.

The national carrier would be delivered within the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari, Sirika told the media in Lagos, Nigeria's economic hub. The government had removed German-based Lufthansa Consortium from being one of the transaction advisers for the birthing of the new national carrier, he said.

"I think in the next couple of months, one month to two months maximum... we should be able to have our outline business base for this transaction," the minister said.

"I will say that we are very close to having the national carrier established. Certainly it would be within the first term of this administration," he added.

He also defended the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) which Nigeria recently signed, stressing that the country would be the greatest beneficiary. The minister faulted the criticism of the move by airline operators in Nigeria, noting that most of them had refused to grow and were indebted to the aviation agencies.

According to him, the need to take full advantage of the SAATM informed the decision of the government to establish the national carrier.



Published in Travel & Tourism
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