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Africa’s Biggest Company Sees E-Commerce Growth Closing $32 Billion Value Gap

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Naspers
  • Africa’s Biggest Company Sees E-Commerce Growth Closing $32 Billion Value Gap

Naspers Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Bob Van Dijk said five years of heavy e-commerce investments are bearing fruit, which should prove to investors that the assets are worth more than they think.

Van Dijk is seeking to show shareholders that Africa’s largest company by market value has more to offer than just its well-timed investment in Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. Cape Town-based Naspers has ridden the coattails of the WeChat creator to be the best performer on Johannesburg’s FTSE/JSE Africa Top 40 Index this year with a 50 percent rise.

The catch is that the market values the 33 percent stake in the Shenzhen-based company at almost $32 billion more than Naspers as a whole. Outflows of South African capital since late 2015 have contributed to the widening disparity, according to Van Dijk.

He said the value gap will start to close as Naspers’s classified-advertising division, which includes Russia’s Avito, turns profitable in the current fiscal year. The services unit of payment business PayU is close to breaking even, and Polish e-commerce platform eMAG is starting to benefit from a large customer base. The companies are part of Naspers’s e-commerce unit, which recorded a loss of $682 million for the 12 months that ended in March, leaving out interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.

“We are excited about a business like eMAG turning profitable,” Van Dijk said in an interview Friday. “That will be a catalyst to recognizing the value of our other assets.”

Naspers has for years scoured the world looking for another early-stage technology company that will eventually replicate the success of Tencent, in which it invested $32 million 16 years ago. The company has since put money into a wide range of assets, including Russia’s Mail.Ru Group Ltd. and Indian travel agency MakeMyTrip. It sold Polish online auction site Allegro for $3.25 billion last year.

Van Dijk’s main priority in the short term will be on expanding Naspers’ companies to reach broader audiences and using technology to improve customers’ experience. “We have a big team that looks at using artificial intelligence in our classified platforms to eliminate spam ads, for instance,” said Van Dijk.

Earlier at the company’s annual meeting in Cape Town, Chairman Koos Bekker countered criticism Naspers relies too heavily on its $132 billion stake in Tencent. He reminded investors that they would have been a lot poorer if he’d given in to similar pressure to sell the holding years ago. The shares have risen more than sixfold in the past five years, closing Friday at HK$328.40, as Tencent’s services have become an integral part of Chinese life.

“Five years ago there was also a lot of unhappiness,” Bekker told shareholders. “If we had sold then, you would have gotten HK$45, now you get HK$325. We are not married to the share, but at this point in time it’s paying shareholders.”

Bekker said that the assumption that Tencent is making money and Naspers’s other ventures are loss-making was “illiterate,” since profitability doesn’t accurately capture the value of the businesses. He said the biggest internet companies grow faster in both China and the U.S. and that the argument for breaking up technology companies is flawed.

“Amazon, for instance, has made losses at times,” Bekker said. “The link between short-term profitability and value is simply not there.”

The debate over Naspers’s non-Tencent assets has spilled over into the discussion over the African company’s executive compensation. Allan Gray Ltd., holder of a 2.3 percent stake, said earlier this week that the remuneration paid to top executives including Van Dijk isn’t aligned to the performance of the underlying business, excluding Tencent.

The CEO was paid $2.2 million in the year through March, an increase of 32 percent, and awarded $10.4 million in long-term share options. In that time, Naspers made a trading loss of $379 million when Tencent’s contribution is stripped out.

Naspers’s executive pay policy was approved at the shareholder meeting with 79 percent of the vote. Certain investors, including Bekker, hold special shares that give them a majority vote.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Energy

Massive Fuel Station Closures in North-East Nigeria Over Anti-Smuggling Clampdown

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In a significant protest against an anti-smuggling operation, nearly 2,000 petrol stations in Nigeria’s North-East have shut down, causing widespread fuel shortages and forcing motorists to turn to the black market.

The closures began yesterday following a crackdown by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which targeted petrol outlets suspected of smuggling fuel to neighboring countries.

Dahiru Buba, Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN) for Adamawa and Taraba states, revealed that the closures were a direct response to the NCS impounding tanker trucks and shutting down some fuel outlets.

This crackdown, known as “Operation Whirlwind,” aimed to curb the smuggling of subsidized petrol to Cameroon, Benin, and Togo—a practice that has thrived for years due to the significant price difference.

Buba explained that the operation initially led to the seizure of tanker trucks belonging to IPMAN members. Although the trucks were released following protests by the association, the continued impoundment of more vehicles and the closure of several petrol stations led to the widespread shutdown.

“We wrote to them [Nigeria Customs] again, but there were no responses. That is why we decided to go on strike,” Buba said, adding that over 1,800 outlets had ceased operations.

“This is our business, and we cannot be quiet when our members are treated this way,” Buba added, emphasizing the association’s frustration with the ongoing situation.

In response to the closures, the black market has surged, with fuel vendors in Adamawa’s capital, Yola, selling petrol at N1,400 per liter—significantly higher than the official pump price of between N650 and N750.

This has placed an additional burden on consumers, who now face inflated costs amid the fuel scarcity.

Mangsi Lazarus, the customs spokesperson for Adamawa and Taraba, defended the operation, stating that the impounded tanker trucks were indeed being used to smuggle petrol.

“We are simply carrying out our duty to prevent illegal activities that harm the economy,” Lazarus said.

The fuel crisis comes as oil prices edged higher globally due to anticipated strong driving demand, geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, and drone attacks on Russian refineries.

Brent crude futures for August delivery rose by 0.9% to $86.04 a barrel, while US crude gained 1.1% to $81.63 per barrel.

“The chief underlying reason behind the price strength … is the growing confidence that global oil inventories will inevitably plunge during the summer in the northern hemisphere,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM, referring to seasonal demand for oil products.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Inch Down Amid Dollar Strength and Interest Rate Concerns

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Crude oil prices declined on Monday as the U.S. dollar strengthened and concerns over potential interest rate hikes resurfaced.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, slipped marginally by 3 cents to settle at $85.21 per barrel following a modest 0.6% decline on Friday.

Similarly, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil saw a minimal decrease of 2 cents to close at $80.71 per barrel.

Market analysts pointed to the robust performance of the U.S. dollar, which gained ground after the release of positive Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data on Friday.

Tony Sycamore, a markets analyst at IG in Sydney, noted, “The U.S. dollar has opened bid this morning and appears to have broken higher following better U.S. PMI data on Friday night and political concerns ahead of the French election.”

A stronger dollar typically makes dollar-denominated commodities like oil less attractive for holders of other currencies, putting downward pressure on prices.

Last week, however, both Brent and WTI crude contracts managed to gain approximately 3% each.

This was largely driven by increasing signs of demand recovery for oil products in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer of crude oil. Additionally, ongoing supply constraints enforced by OPEC+ further supported market sentiment.

According to ANZ analysts, U.S. crude inventories continued their decline while gasoline demand recorded a seventh consecutive weekly rise.

Moreover, jet fuel consumption has rebounded to levels last seen in 2019, indicating a robust recovery in travel-related fuel demand.

Speculative activity in the oil market has also been notable, with analysts from ING observing an increase in net-long positions in ICE Brent as traders adopt a more positive outlook heading into the summer months.

“We remain supportive towards the oil market with a deficit over the third quarter set to tighten the oil balance,” they stated.

Despite these bullish indicators, geopolitical tensions persisted, providing a floor for oil prices.

Escalating conflicts in the Middle East, including the Gaza crisis and increased drone attacks on Russian refineries by Ukrainian forces, continued to underpin market sentiment.

In South America, Ecuador’s state oil company Petroecuador declared force majeure on deliveries of Napo heavy crude for exports due to severe weather conditions.

Heavy rains led to the shutdown of a critical pipeline and oil wells, impacting production and exports.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the number of operating oil rigs fell by three to 485 last week, marking the lowest count since January 2022, according to Baker Hughes’ weekly report.

Looking ahead, the interplay between the U.S. dollar’s strength, geopolitical developments, and economic indicators such as PMI data will likely dictate short-term oil price movements.

Investors and analysts remain vigilant for any shifts in these factors that could influence global oil market dynamics in the coming weeks.

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Gold

First Commercial Gold Transaction Nets Nigeria $5 Million in Foreign Reserves

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The Ministry of Solid Minerals Development has concluded its first commercial transaction under the National Gold Purchase Program (NGPP), bolstering the nation’s foreign reserves by $5 million.

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, announced the successful sale of over 70 kilograms of gold, refined to meet the stringent London Bullion Market Association Good Delivery Standard.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Alake emphasized the economic significance of the transaction, stating that it injects approximately NGN 6 billion into the rural economy.

He lauded President Tinubu for his unwavering support for reforms in the solid minerals sector, highlighting the pivotal role of the NGPP in enhancing Nigeria’s foreign reserves and bolstering the value of the Naira.

“This transaction represents a strategic move to use the Nigerian Naira to acquire a liquid asset denominated in United States Dollars, demonstrating a viable strategy for fiscal and monetary stability,” Alake stated.

He further expressed confidence in the NGPP’s ability to contribute to Nigeria’s economic diversification agenda, fostering greater economic confidence and attracting foreign investment.

Executive Secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund, Fatima Shinkafi, explained that adherence to the London Bullion Market Good Delivery Standard ensures that Nigeria’s gold exports meet global trading requirements.

She emphasized that only gold bars meeting these standards are acceptable in the settlement of Loco London contracts, reinforcing Nigeria’s credibility in the global gold market.

President Tinubu, upon receiving a symbolic gold bar, commended the Ministry for achieving a crucial milestone in the nation’s economic diversification efforts.

He described the transaction as a concrete step towards realizing the objectives of the Renewed Hope Agenda, aimed at reducing economic dependence on oil and gas revenues.

Through initiatives like the NGPP, Nigeria aims to further enhance its gold reserves, promote economic stability, and create an environment conducive to sustainable economic growth.

The successful completion of the first commercial gold transaction marks a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s journey towards becoming a key player in the global gold market, driving economic prosperity and resilience.

The Ministry of Solid Minerals Development continues to advocate for supportive policies and regulatory frameworks that promote transparency, efficiency, and sustainability in the mining sector, laying the groundwork for future economic growth and development.

As Nigeria moves forward with its gold refining and export initiatives, stakeholders anticipate continued progress in diversifying revenue streams and strengthening the nation’s economic resilience on the global stage.

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