Five fascinating business facts – Part 51
South Africa’s market regulator says it is reviewing volatile share trading sparked by market speculation that a research group would release a negative report on a listed firm. The regulator confirmed it was reviewing unusual activity in shares of Aspen Pharmacare, which plunged 10 percent on Tuesday, prompting the company to say there was speculation that New York-based Viceroy Research would release damaging information about the company. More than $3 billion was wiped off the value of property stocks alone in just four days, prompting South African regulators to scrutinize trades to determine whether a formal probe is warranted.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc is taking small steps toward a future dominated by electric cars, renewable energy and carbon constraints, demonstrating its intent not to remain solely an oil and gas company. The energy giant agreed last month to purchase First Utility Ltd., the U.K.’s seventh-largest power provider. Its offshore-wind partnership with Eneco may expand further, with word on Friday that Shell is considering buying the Dutch utility outright. Electric cars could displace 8 million barrels a day of oil use, or 25% of current OPEC output.
A Tanzanian probe found that the local unit of Indian mobile-phone company Bharti Airtel Ltd. was originally transferred from the state illegally and the government will start talks to retake what it says is its rightful share of the business estimated at 69%. The probe discovered that the initial privatization of Tanzania Telecommunications Corp. “broke the law, regulations and procedure,” according to a statement from President John Magufuli’s office that quoted Finance Minister Philip Mpango. “What we saw was very dirty and terrible. In short, our country was conned and a lot of money was lost,” Mpango said.
BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, rounded off 2017 with record inflows, pulling in $367bn of net investor cash for the year and more than $100bn in the final three months. The group beat analyst expectations by reporting fourth-quarter earnings of $2.3bn, or $14.07 per share, helped by a $1.2bn windfall from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Exchange traded funds, low-cost vehicles that have become increasingly popular among retail and intuitional investors, accounted for $245bn of new flows. This took assets under management for iShares, BlackRock’s ETF unit, to $1.7tn.
Leading African figures from business and politics have roundly denounced Donald Trump’s use of the phrase “shithole countries” in reference to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa as offensive and racist. Mr Trump has shown little inclination to back down, tweeting his opposition on Friday to a “so-called bipartisan” immigration proposal to “take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly”. The relatively few remarks the president has made about Africa in the past include a reference to Namibia as “Nambia” and the claim that Nigerians, who regularly achieve among the highest grades at US universities, would be unwilling to return to their huts.
That invited a mini-storm of social media activity in which people posted photographs of the upscale residences in which middle and upper class Nigerians often live. “He is normalising obscenity, chauvinism, racism,” said Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese telecoms billionaire who has championed the cause of good governance in Africa with a $5m annual prize.
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