Five fascinating business facts – Part 52
Fresh data show that countries like Nigeria are enjoying record nominal prices per barrel in local currency terms today than and the trend is helping repair fiscal and external deficits and rebuild foreign currency reserves, even though oil prices in dollar terms remain at $69, well below the peak of $150, set in 2008. In particular what Nigeria is now harvesting in oil sold per barrel is in naira terms 25 per cent above their previous peak in 2012, just on the back of its decision to devalue the currency in 2016. However, questions remain about how countries like Nigeria are spending the new local currency windfall. “For instance in Nigeria, they maintain a fuel subsidy which means Nigerians pay less for fuel at the pump than Saudis. The more the oil price goes up, the more costly this fuel subsidy becomes. For Nigeria, it offsets many of the fiscal gains from higher oil prices,” said Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance Capital.
UK retail sales posted the biggest fall since the direct aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum vote, with consumers feeling the pinch from rapidly rising prices and shifting some spending to November from December. The quantity of goods bought dropped 1.5 per cent in December from a “strong” month in November, according to the Office for National Statistics. Meanwhile, the year on year rate chilled to 1.4 per cent, from 1.5 per cent the previous month.
Economists had forecast a 0.6 per cent month on month fall, and an acceleration in the year on year rate to 3 per cent, according to a Reuters poll.
Hong Kong’s government has announced a bill to boost oversight of auditors of listed companies after a string of incidents last year in which some saw their share prices fall as much as 94 per cent in a single day. Secretary for financial services James Lau said in a statement that the bill would make Hong Kong’s Financial Reporting Council independent from the audit profession to provide better protection to investors. “This is crucial to strengthening Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre and capital market,” Mr Lau said, adding that the reforms would bring Hong Kong in line with international standards and practices and make it eligible to join the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators.
South African cement producer PPC said on Friday it has reached agreement with lenders to reschedule the debt relating to a new $300 million plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). PPC, along with other South African construction firms, has been struggling to improve revenue and sales partly due to a slow roll-out of a government infrastructure investment package, squeezing its liquidity. It has responded by borrowing heavily to build factories in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and the DRC to boost overseas sales.
GlaxoSmithKline Plc is cutting jobs in Africa and restructuring in more than two dozen countries across the continent, reversing earlier expansion efforts as new Chief Executive Emma Walmsley tries to make the U.K. drugmaker more competitive. Glaxo will stop marketing and promotion to health-care professionals, relying instead on distributors in 29 sub-Saharan markets, the London-based company said in an emailed response to questions Wednesday. The move will lead to job losses, a spokesman said, declining to give a number. Glaxo said it will continue to work with industry partners, governments and other organizations to ensure its products remain available locally. Since taking the reins in April, Walmsley has announced plans to terminate or divest more than 30 drug-development programs and offload 130 brands while Glaxo takes steps to pare costs as well as rejuvenate its research and development. She’s also revamping the top ranks of the company, and has already replaced about 50 of 125 managers as she seeks to change its culture and kindle innovation.
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