Algerian billionaire bets on investments abroad

Comments (0) Africa, Business

Sugar refining fueled the fortune of Algeria’s richest man, Issad Rebrab.

Originally trained to be an accountant Rebrab launched Cevital, Algeria’s largest private company and owner of one of the largest sugar refineries in the world as well as a string of companies in the country and abroad.

The son of revolutionaries who fought for Algeria’s independence from France, Rebrab became the country’s first billionaire in 2013. Forbes estimates his net worth at $3.4 billion, making him the ninth wealthiest person on the African continent.

Now 72, Rebrab came from modest beginnings. He completed accounting studies at a vocational school and started his career teaching accounting and business law. He went on to start his own accounting firm in 1968.

Invests in metallurgic industry

He followed a client’s advice to invest in the metallurgical construction business, and in 1971, he acquired a 20 percent stake in Sotecom, a metallurgic manufacturing company.

Rebrab later said it was a risky move, but “at worst, I knew I could always go back to teaching.”

His fortunes took a nose dive in 1995 when terrorist attacks destroyed his factories costing him more than $1 billion. He was then forced into exile to France.

Three years later he returned to Algeria to establish Cevital.

Refinery produces sugar, oil and margarine

The company headquartered in Béjaïa is one of Algeria’s largest exporters in addition to providing products for domestic consumption, including sugar, vegetable oil and margarine. The sugar refinery produces 1.5 million tons annually. In 2012, Cevital produced 450,000 tons of oil for domestic consumption as well as quantities of liquid sugar for the country’s sodas industry. Cevital products are exported around the world, including to West Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

His other industrial interests include petro chemistry, steel, and naval and automobile construction. Rebrab is the sole Algerian enacting agent for Samsun Electronics in his country thanks to his subsidiary company named Samha .Cevicar another subsidiary is the sole agent of the car rental agency Europcar.

All five of his children now work in his businesses, which employ a total of more than 13,000 in Algeria.

Rebrab is betting that his country can compete with China for cheap labor. “We have huge potential; we can make up for lost time very quickly,” he said.

A string of investments in Europe, Sudan

He is also one of only a few Algerian businessmen that have expanded activities outside the country.

Rebrab has diversified his holdings by acquiring distressed companies in Europe.

In 2014, he acquired Groupe Brandt, a large maker of appliances based in France that had filed for bankruptcy protection. Cevital invested more than $200 million to build a Brandt plant in Algeria, which will employ 7,500 people.

Since 2013 the company has also purchased the Spanish aluminum smelter Alas Aluminum, the French assets of the Spanish household appliance manufacturer Fagor, and the Italian steelmaker Lucchini.

Cevital has also ventured south, with a 2014 agreement to invest $3 billion to develop production of sugar cane in Sudan.

Court cancels sale of Media Company

Earlier this year, Rebrab agreed to buy the media group El-Khabar for $35 million. The newspapers is published in Arab-language publication with a circulation of more than 500,000.

The Algerian Ministry of Communication challenged the acquisition, citing a law that prohibits a company from owning more than one general news company Rebrab already owning the French-language newspaper Liberté.

In July, an administrative court of Algiers gave reason to the government and cancelled the sale of El-Khabar.


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Tidal Wave of Change for London’s Property Market

Comments (0) Business, Middle East, UK

In late June of this year, the United Kingdom shocked the world when it voted Leave to the referendum on the European Union. The effects of the vote were immediate: the British pound plummeted 11%, reaching its lowest point against the American dollar since 1985 and the booming commercial real estate sector in London hit a wall. One-third of on-going deals either collapsed or had to be re-negotiated as realtors and buyers dealt with the news of the “Brexit.”

The Gulf Steps In

Some overseas investors, however, were not quite so shakened: buyers from the Middle East, particularly from the Gulf region, identified an opportunity. With the drop in value of the Pound, wealthy Saudis moved in to purchase Londonian properties that were out of their budget weeks ago.
One notable example was the $1.3 billion bid put forward by a group of Saudi and UK investors for the London Grosvenor House hotel as well as a share in the Plaza and Dream Downtown hotels, both being located in New York. Prior to the vote, institutions based in EU countries were the largest consumers of British property but, following the Brexit vote, a “window of opportunity” opened for “more agile private investors and corporates seeking to make the most of currency shifts.”
Jassim Alseddiqi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group, said his company is looking to acquire other London properties while potential rivals are hesitant to wade into the post-Brexit market. Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) has already an impressive portfolio of about $2.6 billion in capital developments in London. ADFG includes investors from Abu Dhabi’s elite, including the royal family. The company plans to bid on Hyde Park Barracks in the upscale London neighborhood of Knightsbridge. The properties are currently owned by the British Minister of Defense, who is looking to sell.
According to Mr. Alseddiqi, investment requests from Gulf buyers have increased by about 25% since the referendum. What makes this all more interesting is that most of Mr. Alseddiqi’s clients had shown no interest in capitalising in real-estate investment prior to the vote.

Those Closer to Home Step Back

While opportunities for investment are increasing, European institutions are retreating from the market. Germany’s Union Investment pulled out of a long-negotiated potential settlement to purchase a $610 million office building to the City of London in the immediate aftermath of the referendum.
James Beckham, head of central London investment firm, Cushman & Wakefield, is confident in that this trend is temporary : “institutional investors have become more cautious. For them it’s a ‘wait and see’ approach over the summer. They will come back in September and see what the temperature is like.” One can only hope that the property investment climate is warmer than the infamously grey British summers. Middle Eastern investors are not the only ones capitalizing on the delightfully low value of sterling: Chinese investors, particularly those from Hong Kong, are also seizing the opportunity to purchase properties in some of London’s most elite neighborhoods. The reason behind this is, according to those in the know, that for those who have been in the property game for a long time the chance to buy a building at a 10% discount is simply too good to pass up. It will be interesting to watch what happens to London as the population demographics of property owners change in the city’s commercial and high-end neighborhoods.

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Olatorera Oniru and her journey to successful e-commerce business leader

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Leaders

At just 29 years old, Oniru has achieved more in the last decade than many people do in a lifetime. She grew up partly in Nigeria, and partly in the USA, which provided her with a unique mix of cultural experiences and educational background. She moved to the US with her family at the beginning of high school, after which she completed a business administration degree at North Carolina A&T University in 2008.

Wall Street, Banking and Life in New York

After university, she was recruited to Wall Street where she spent two “exhilarating” years at Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a Senior Analyst. Africa was still on her mind however, and she always knew she would return to her homeland. During her years at Wall Street, she also served as the co-founder and president of the Network of African Professionals in New York City. Following her success in New York, she accepted a role with the Bank of Nigeria as a Senior Supervisor which she eventually gave up to complete her Master’s degree at Emory University, Atlanta. During her years in the business world Oniru traveled to over 50 cities in four different continents. This exposure to different industries, cultures and environments was instrumental in the development of her later business. She had aspirations to connect Africa with the rest of the world through something she loved: Fashion.

Unfulfilled by the Corporate World

The majority of the business plan for Dressmeoutlet was finalized while she was completing her Master’s degree at Emory. She had spent several years working for fortune 500 companies in both the USA and Nigeria and had established herself in the corporate world. Despite holding prestigious roles and earning a substantial salary, she says she never felt 100% comfortable in this environment. She felt ill at ease living in a materialistic, corporate environment, knowing the poverty rate was over 65% in her native Nigeria. She took her financial experience and business acumen and established her e-commerce fashion startup in January 2016. It has been referred to as “the Amazon of the fashion world” and essentially connects retailers and consumers via a giant online shopping database. After just six months of operation it has customers in over 15 different countries including the US and France. Although it showcases apparel, accessories and beauty products from all over the world, it strongly favors African producers, which is the motivation behind the company. Oniru wants to create global visibility for African products while creating employment and opportunities for people throughout the continent.

Big Plans for an even Bigger Picture

Oniru only thinks in grand terms. She wants her business to act as a catalyst for the African fashion industry’s emergence, while also combating cyclical poverty and youth employment in undeveloped areas. She said recently, “Success for me, means witnessing a reduction in poverty across Africa, witnessing a worldwide increase in the appreciation of human creativity.” She believes in her company 100%. Her dream of fighting youth unemployment while becoming a role model for other entrepreneurs and women inspired her. She took a leap of faith, leaving her lucrative career in finance to found her ambitious start-up venture. Fortunately, this has paid off and her website already stocks over 1000 different products from across the globe. In just six months it has become a major player in the e-commerce world, and has connected over 500 artisans with consumers. Oniru is more invested in this than most entrepreneurs, funding the startup entirely from her own savings. She explains: “I love fashion, I love the retail industry, and I love Africa. Beyond that, I have always had the yearn to go entrepreneurial and develop my own empire that would serve as a role model to other startup journeys”. Oniru’s tenacity, experience and drive are evidently a winning combination. She is committed to social change and inspired by fuelling development in Africa. If the last six months are anything to go by, this fashion retailer is here to stay.

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Tech start-up MAGNiTT and its founder Philip Bahoshy

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Leaders, Middle East, Technology

Philip Bahoshy and his groundbreaking company MAGNiTT are revolutionizing the start-up industry. What’s interesting is that MAGNiTT is itself a start-up firm. So how is Bahoshy simultaneously helping new companies, while nurturing his own venture through its infancy period? Bahoshy, 31, was raised in the U.K and has Iraqi roots. He obtained a BSc in Economics from the prestigious London School of Economics which he completed in 2006. In 2007, Bahoshy made a move to Dubai to work for the highly regarded management consultancy firm Oliver Wyman, where he immersed himself in the corporate world. He then made a move to Barclays Wealth in 2010 to work as the chief of staff for the CEO of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

A start-up for start-ups

His high-flying corporate career bestowed him with an acute understanding of the business and investment landscape in the MENA space. Upon completion of his Master’s degree in 2013, Bahoshy was looking to go solo and start his own firm. Armed with a slew of business ideas, he was keen to get the ball rolling; however, he struggled to find investment, guidance and concept validation. After speaking with other start-ups, Bahoshy came to realize that although Dubai was a vibrant and energetic hub for all kinds of business people, new firms weren’t always making the right connections. He described this as “start-ups struggling in isolation.” This realization gave birth to MAGNiTT, which Bahoshy founded late in 2014. He envisaged building an online ecosystem that would make life easier for start-ups to find the various supports they need, while enabling external parties to identify fledgling firms that they are interested in. Initially, MAGNiTT solely focused on linking start-ups with investment. He explained: “We identified that the real pain point in the region is access to angel funding – basically $100,000 to $250,000.” He elaborated, explaining that start-ups often struggle making the transition from setting up the firm with their own capital, to developing a viable business that is ready for substantial investment from venture capitalists. Linking start-ups with angel investors is often critical if firms are to bridge this gap.

An online pitching platform and more

Bahoshy already had other ideas about how MAGNiTT could develop and provide further services. Firstly, he realized that it can be bewildering for investors and other parties when trying to identify start-ups, and that his product needed to work seamlessly. He focused on making MAGNiTT a streamlined online portal where start-ups have to outline the core concepts of their product. They have to succinctly present their business idea and the problem it solves, their elevator pitch, their target market, the competition, and finally, monetization. External parties can filter and search profiles for concepts they are interested in, analyze the product outline, access further information and ultimately connect with firms that they want to start a dialogue with. Bahoshy was already aware that start-ups need more than just funding to get off the ground. He focused on bringing mentors, accelerator programs, service providers and co-founders to the ecosystem. For start-ups, they can request what kind of support they are looking for. According to MAGNiTT’s data, 58% of start-ups on the site have listed that they are looking for mentorship, 56% are interested in showcasing supports, while 26% are looking for legal support or backing.

Major interest, new features and the future 

In January, Bahoshy had a respectable 200 start-ups signed up to MAGNiTT. Since then the site has exploded and today there are over 1400 start-ups and thousands of users registered on the platform.The site is already helping to forge valuable connections that are taking start-ups to the next level. Bahoshy has said that he wants to bring resources such as video conferencing, legal, marketing and HR services to the site. Additionally, MAGNiTT has recently launched a blog alongside a raft of materials relevant for start-up firms. He is also looking to bring Venture Capitalists into the platform to assist start-ups later down the line. MAGNiTT is itself listed as a start-up on MAGNiTT. Uniquely, its own success is being defined by how well it creates opportunities for all of its parties. For Bahoshy it’s so far so good and he is currently in negotiations with interested investors. It looks as though MAGNiTT is set to take off while bringing other great business ideas along for the ride.

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Wizzit: The mobile application servicing South Africa’s underprivileged

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Economy


Turning 12 this year, Wizzit is an established name in South Africa. It connects a generation of ‘unbanked’ people with safe, reliable access to financial services including debit transactions, transfers and online banking. Similar models such as M-Pesa in Kenya have since appeared on the scene, challenging Wizzit’s industry dominance.

Removing the need to travel long distances to visit a branch has drawn a whole new demographic into banking. Where cash transactions dominated in the past, South Africa’s urban poor are slowly coming around to the benefits of using financial services to receive salary, transfer money and pay for products.

Wizzit’s beginnings, financial services for those left behind

Wizzit was established in 2004 by South African banker, Brian Richardson. He noticed a niche in the market; the opportunity to provide mobile banking services to those who couldn’t obtain traditional bank accounts due to geographical locations and economic constraints. He explains: “Of the 7 billion people on the planet, half, or 3.5 billion people, have no bank account.”

Servicing this untapped market became a priority for Richardson. Not only did he recognize a major business opportunity, but the chance to offer a service that would bring major social benefits. Since its inception Wizzit has spread to Zambia, Namibia, Rwanda and Botswana in Africa and Romania and Honduras globally, proving that a lack of access to secure, convenient and affordable banking is an international problem.

An industry first, now many have followed

Wizzit was a true pioneer in early 2000s. Its success sparked major change, prompting traditional banks to take note and develop their own mobile application models to connect with this market. In just over 10 years, Wizzit has provided over 7 million people with affordable and easy mobile banking in 13 different countries. It has also played a part in decreasing the alarming number of ‘unbanked’ South Africans from 42% in 2004 to 23.5% in 2016.

With affordability a high priority, Wizzit couldn’t compete with the big-budget advertising that the major banks used to attract new customers. They developed an ingenious way of marketing their business while simultaneously helping to address unemployment problems in South Africa: WIZZkids. These were typically young, low-income individuals who live in the communities from which they recruit their customers. They acted as salesmen for the company, signing up friends and neighbors to their bank accounts and financial services. A caveat, they have to be currently unemployed to become a WIZZkid, helping some of the most disadvantaged people and communities out of debilitating poverty cycles.

Next for Wizzit, global expansion

Wizzit has recently expanded into micro-loans for individuals and small businesses and has plans to continue both its African and global expansion. Egypt, Myanmar, Mexico and Colombia are next. According to CEO Brian Richardson, they haven’t even needed to advertise in these countries, partner organizations have reached out to them. Hopefully these countries will benefit as South Africa has, bringing banking to those who would otherwise be excluded.

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China’s gifts to Africa: Government buildings, stadiums

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While much of the aid China provides to Africa comes in the form of investment and loans for infrastructure and economic development, the Asian nation has also given the continent dozens of government structures and sports stadiums.

For example, China has promised the government of Zimbabwe $46 million for a new building to house the nation’s parliament. The building will be located in Mount Hampden, about 10 miles outside the capital city of Harare.

Zimbabwe’s Senate and House number a total of 300 members and the legislative bodies have outgrown the current parliament building.

The pledge followed the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg last December. The Chinese government also agreed to forgive $40 million in Zimbabwean debt to the Asian nation. At the same time, China pledged to invest more than $1 billion in development of a thermal power plant in Zimbabwe.

In return, Zimbabwe agreed to make the Chinese Yuan legal tender. Zimbabwe abandoned its own dollar currency seven years ago after a period of hyperinflation and uses multiple currencies, including the United States dollar and the South African Rand.

Support fosters economic ties

As China seeks to strengthen its economic ties to the continent, support public and government structures has emerged as one facet of the strategy. With its interest in Africa’s minerals and other resources, China has become a major investor and financier of infrastructure projects.

In 2012, China funded a $200 million headquarters in Addis Ababa for the African Union, dubbing it “China’s Gift to Africa.” The building, 100 meters tall, dominates the skyline of the Ethiopian city. Most of the materials and furnishings were imported from China and more than 1,000 construction workers from China and Ethiopia worked on the project.

China also built an opulent presidential office complex for Mozambique, complete with crystal chandeliers and marble interiors. The structure, which opened in 2014, overlooks Maputo Bay. Cost was not disclosed.

China also donated $25 million for a new building to house the offices of the president and vice president in Uganda and provided furnishings from China. The building, next to the Ugandan parliament building, opened in 2011.

In Sierra Leone, China built a new foreign ministry complex and offices for parliament as well as a 100-bed friendship hospital outside Freetown. China also renovated government offices in Zambia.

China conducts “stadium diplomacy”

The Asian nation has also conducted an effort dubbed “stadium diplomacy,” building more than a dozen sports venues on the continent.

They include Mozambique National Stadium which was built to Olympic standards at a cost of $80 million and seats 42,000 spectators; Tanzania National Stadium, also built to Olympic standards and accommodating 60,000 spectators and built with a contribution of more than $33 million from China; and Malawi National Stadium, which can seat 40,000 and cost $70 million.

China also assisted with construction of four stadiums for the 2010 African Cup of Nations competition in Angola. The complex cost an estimated $600 million. For the 2012 African Cup, Equatorial Guinea built two stadiums with Chinese assistance while 2012 co-host Gabon enjoyed a gift from China of a $60 million stadium.

Chinese investment, trade on the rise

The millions of dollars spent on public structures are dwarfed by ongoing Chinese investment in the continent. In December, China pledged to $60 billion to Africa, most of it in the form of loans and export credits.

China said its cumulative direct investment to Africa over 15 years ending in 2014 was $30 billion.

China has become by far Africa’s biggest trading partner, and more than one million Chinese laborers and traders have moved to the continent in the last decade.

Trade between Africa and China was $220 billion in 2014 and was expected to increase to $300 billion in 2015.

The United States and India are also major trading partners with Africa, according to the World Bank. In 2014, China accounted for 15 percent of imports to Africa and 6.5 percent of its exports. The United States represented 5.5 percent of imports and nearly 5 percent of exports. India accounted for 6 percent of imports and more than 8 percent of exports. Africa also imports about 5 percent of its goods from Germany and exports more than 6 percent to the Netherlands and 4.5 percent to Spain.

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South African entrepreneur succeeds with designer socks

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Leaders


Serial South African entrepreneur Nicholas Haralambous has hit it big with a line of colorful designer socks that are sold in 20 countries around the world.

Haralambous, who counts his company Nic Harry as his ninth business venture, markets socks made from environmentally friendly bamboo fiber. Nic Socks are worn by celebrities including cricket player Herschelle Gibbs, rugby player Bob Skinstad, actor Maps Maponyane, and Mmusi Maimane, leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party.

Haralambous, who is in his early thirties, got the idea for the business after buying brightly colored imported socks years ago. He did not like the quality or the design. After selling a tech venture he had founded, he used the some of the proceeds in 2012 to launch Nic Harry, a fashion venture that produces the socks and other men’s accessories.

The Cape Town entrepreneur considers socks the foundation of a classy wardrobe for men who may have limited options for accessories. Men should dress “from the ground up,” Haralambous said.

Sales increase rapidly

He sold 6,500 pairs of socks worldwide during the first year of the business. Sales grew ten-fold the second year to 66,000 pairs, and the company expected to sell more than 100,000 pairs in 2015.

His best-seller is The Barbershop sock, which is popular in 10 countries. The company has produced about 70 designs with more than 60 in stock.

Socks sell for as little as $10 a pair. Buyers can subscribe to buy one or two pairs of socks each month and the company also offers early access to new designs and loyalty pricing.

In addition to socks, the company sells accessories including scarves, ties and pocket squares.

Haralambous said the subscription model is the first in South Africa.

Success after nine tries

He said Nic Harry is his tenth business venture in a decade – and he said he has learned a lot from failure.

He didn’t intend to be an entrepreneur. He studied journalism, philosophy and politics at Rhodes University in Eastern Cape and took jobs in talk radio and newspapers.

But he had started his first business while in school, at age 19, and he left the Mail & Guardian to join a start up called Zoopy. He also co-founded Motribe, a mobile social network builder. Motribe was his most successful venture before Nic Harry and Mxit, the mobile messaging giant, bought the company.

With no business training, Haralambous said he mostly learned by trial and error.

Perseverance is critical to success

“Build, fail, learn, and repeat,” he said, emphasizing that successful entrepreneurs will need to persevere in the face of many obstacles. “You’re going to face hardship. If you want the long-term benefit you need the short-term pain and risk.”

He said it is important to see problems as puzzles to solve rather than as roadblocks.

He said he started the accessories company with about $400 he made from his previous business and increased it to more than $2,000 within six weeks.

While many doubted he could build a successful company, Haralambous persisted. He found a manufacturer who could make samples at reasonable cost. He put photos online. Within a month, he had sold more than 1,000 pairs in South Africa and farther afield in the United States and France.

Lessons for entrepreneurs

He said his success carries a lesson for fellow entrepreneurs in his country because it shows it is possible to build a valuable enterprise with only a small amount of money.

Haralambous sees himself as a disruptor in South Africa’s fashion industry, which he says has become complacent.
“The online space is going to disrupt the fashion industry in South Africa. I’m getting in early enough so I’m the leading disrupter.”


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South Africa’s AMCU, platinum mines fail to reach wage deal

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s biggest platinum mine-workers’ union and the industry have failed to reach a deal on workers’ pay, the union said on Monday, raising the prospect of industrial action in the world’s biggest producer of the white metal.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which led a crippling five-month strike in 2014, has been in talks with Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin since July this year.


(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Ed Cropley)


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Despite cuts, Big Oil to expand production into the 2020s

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

By Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) – Never mind the drop in crude prices, huge spending cuts and thousands of job losses – the world’s top oil and gas companies are set to produce more than ever for some time.

While top oil companies struggle with slumping revenues following a more than halving of prices since mid-2014 after years of spectacular growth, their production has persistently grown as projects sanctioned earlier in the decade come on line.

Overall production at the world’s seven biggest oil and gas companies is set to rise by around 9 percent between 2015 and 2018, according to analysts’ estimates.

With an expected recovery in prices, the increased production should boost cash flow and secure generous dividend payouts, which had forced companies to double borrowing throughout the downturn.

“There are a lot of projects coming on stream over the next three years that will support cash flow and ultimately dividend,” Barclays analyst Lydia Rainforth said.

And despite a drop in new project approvals, companies have throughout the downturn cleared a number of mammoth undertakings such as Statoil’s Johan Sverdrop oilfield off Norway and Eni’s Zohr gas development off the Egyptian coast.

Others opted to acquire new production, such as Royal Dutch Shell, which bought smaller rival BG Group for $54 billion this year, and Exxon Mobil through investments in Papua New Guinea and Mozambique.

Shell is expected to see the strongest growth among its peers over the next two years at 8 percent, according to BMO Capital Markets.

Production is unlikely to drop after 2020, and could post modest growth as companies continue to bring projects onstream, albeit at a slower pace, BMO analyst Brendan Warn said.

French oil major Total, for example, plans to clear three major projects by 2018 – the Libra offshore oilfield in Brazil, the Uganda onshore project and the Papua LNG project – that will begin production after 2020.

“We won’t see 5 to 10 percent growth that we’ve seen from companies in recent years. It will be closer to 1 or 2 percent,” Warn said.



Capital spending, or capex, for the sector is set to drop from a record $220 billion in 2013 to around $140 billion in 2017 before modestly recovering, according to Barclays.

But companies have learnt to do more with the money after slashing expenditure and tens of thousands of jobs, while the cost of services such as rig hiring dropped sharply throughout the downturn.

“2017 is the sweet spot for integrated companies. It took two to three years to adjust to the drop in oil prices, and a lot of the efficiencies introduced in recent years will roll into 2017, when projects kick in and free cash flow will improve,” Rainforth said.

The resilience is mostly due to new gas projects coming on stream as companies shift towards the less polluting hydrocarbon that is expected increasingly to displace oil demand in coming decades.

The slower pace of project development after a decade of rapid growth that was accompanied by soaring costs will help companies, Warn said.

“That is much more sustainable for a major that will reduce the number of large capex projects.”


(Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Dale Hudson)


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South Africa’s antitrust body rejects appeal to delay Massmart complaint

Comments (0) Business, Economy, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African grocery retailers have lost a bid to delay a hearing into a complaint brought by Massmart that accuses them of anti-competitive behaviour, the antitrust watchdog said on Friday.

Large food retailers Shoprite, Spar, Pick n Pay had sought to delay the hearing into Massmart’s complaint on the grounds there is already a wider investigation into factors that could be distorting competition.

Massmart, a division of Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, lodged the complaint in 2014, saying its expansion into the grocery sector was being hampered by lease arrangements that restrict malls from renting out space to rival food retailers.

Known for its Game chain that mainly sells electronic goods, Massmart has been trying to push into the grocery market since Wal-Mart took a controlling stake in 2011, a move that pits it against rivals that also include upmarket food retailer Woolworths.

The Competition Commission has said exclusive clauses in leasing agreements, which can restrict malls from renting out space to rival food retailers for up to 20 years, could be one of the features preventing more competition.

Its sector-wide investigation, which will also examine competition between small informal foreign-owned shops and local stores popularly known as “spazas”, is expected to be completed by the end of May 2017.


(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by David Clarke)


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