24 Februar 2021 | Geschäft

COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

SA's Sasol abandons US$2 bln rights issue

South African petrochemical firm Sasol said on Monday it had decided not to pursue a rights issue of up to US$2 billion after significant progress in its turnaround strategy.

The world's top manufacturer of motor fuel has been battling high debt, lower oil and chemicals prices and tepid fuel demand during the coronavirus crisis, forcing the company to sell assets and restructure parts of its business.

"A decision was made not to pursue a rights issue given the current macro-economic outlook, and the significant progress made on our response plan initiatives," the company said.

Sasol president and chief executive officer, Fleetwood Grobler said the company aimed to announce further asset sales of between US$400 million and US$500 million by the end of 2021.

The company said it had so far received US$3.3 billion from asset sales and was considering selling its stake in the Rompco gas pipeline from Mozambique to South Africa.

Shares in Sasol rose more than 4% in early trade before giving up gains to stand just 0.1% higher by 1338 GMT. - Nampa/Reuters

Bidcorp reported a 46.2% decline in earnings

Bid Corporation Ltd (Bidcorp) reported yesterday a decline of 46.2% in half-year earnings, as Covid-19 curbs hammer the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries due to a second wave of infections in some areas.

Bidcorp's performance started well as most regions, particularly in Europe and Britain, emerged from the worst of the first wave of infections, with a positive financial performance through July and August, the South African food services company said.

This, however, started deteriorating into September in the northern hemisphere and worsened into the second quarter of its half-year ended December, with Europe and Britain firmly in the grip of the harsh second wave and lockdowns.

"The significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on hospitality markets has been prevalent in all operating geographies to a greater or lesser extent throughout the reporting period," Bidcorp said.

As a result, net revenue fell 10.9% to 60.8 billion rand (US$4.16 billion) in the six months ended Dec.31 versus a year earlier, while trading profit declined by 37.4%. Headline earnings per share (HEPS) from continuing operations fell to 391.6 cents. - Nampa/Reuters

Discovery expects 12 mln paid subscribers

Discovery Inc said on Monday it expects to have 12 million global paid streaming subscribers by the end of this month, as coronavirus-led restrictions kept people home and fuelled subscriber growth.

Launched in January, discovery+ houses 55 000 episodes from channels in the Discovery portfolio, which includes HGTV, Food Network and Animal Planet.

Discovery+ has already launched in India, the UK and Ireland and will eventually be available in 25 countries.

Discovery is betting on unscripted programming in categories such as food and home improvement available on its streaming service to compete with rivals Netflix and Disney+, which is popular for scripted shows.

The Silver Spring, Maryland-based company posted on Monday a fourth-quarter revenue of US$2.89 billion, above Wall Street's estimates of US$2.83 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data. - Nampa/Reuters

Vodafone's Czech subsidiary held talks

Vodafone's Czech subsidiary said on Monday it had held talks with state-controlled energy utility CEZ regarding strategic cooperation, but not on selling the unit as reported by a Czech newspaper.

Financial daily Hospodarske Noviny reported on Monday that CEZ, central Europe's largest listed energy group, was interested in buying Vodafone's Czech business. Talks over a price for the market's number three operator have been ongoing since the summer months last year, the paper said.

"We confirmed to Hospodarske Noviny that there have been talks with CEZ on different options of strategic cooperation. We did not confirm, however, that it is about selling the whole Vodafone (in the country)," Vodafone's local spokesman Ondrej Lustinec said.

CEZ declined to comment on the report, and Vodafone did not give further details on the nature of the cooperation being discussed.

CEZ, which is 70% owned by the state, already has a smaller mobile operation with 130 000 clients, leasing network capacity from O2 Czech Republic. - Nampa/Reuters

Adidas to resume dividend payments

German sporting goods maker Adidas announced plans to resume dividend payments to shareholders after the terms of a government-backed loan to get it through the coronavirus crisis forced it to suspend pay-outs last year.

Adidas said on Monday it would pay a dividend of 3 euros per share for 2020, or a total of 585 million euros (US$710 million). That compares with a dividend of 3.35 euros per share for 2018.

Shares in Adidas narrowed their losses on the news, trading 0.6% lower at 293.80 euros by 1218 GMT.

Adidas in November replaced its loan from Germany's state-backed bank KfW with a 1.5 billion euro syndicated loan from partner banks, which meant it could resume dividend payments.

The group is due to publish its financial results for 2020 on March 10. Rival Nike in December raised its full-year sales forecast after Covid-wary shoppers demanding outdoor sportswear drove its third consecutive surge in online sales. - Nampa/Reuters

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