Jack Ma Reportedly Missing After Criticizing Chinese Government
Jack Ma, China’s richest man and the founder of Alibaba Group, is reportedly missing after criticizing the Chinese government a few months ago.
The high profile businessman has not been seen in the public in more than two months and also failed to appear as expected in the final episode of Africa’s Business Heroes, a yearly talent show he set up to invest $1.5 million in viable startups in the region.
On Thursday, December 28, 2020, the Chinese government announced it has commenced an antitrust investigation into Alibaba operations and that an invitation would be extended to Ant Group, the company’s payment unit.
In a move that indicated more trouble, investors started dumping the company’s shares after the report became public, forcing Alibaba management to increase the company’s share buyback budget from $6 billion previously announced to $10 billion.
Still, the company’s market value in the U.S tanked by 15 percent with Hong Kong suffering the most.
After Jack Ma criticized the government for suffocating innovation with regulation in October at Bund Summit, where he likened China’s banking regulation to “old people’s club”.
“Today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age,” Ma said in the speech.
“We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system.”
A month later, regulators suspended the company’s widely publicised $37 billion Initial Public Offering (IPO) and in December declared antitrust investigation into the company’s operations.
However, since the crisis started, Jack Ma has not been seen in public and even at some of his own key yearly events.
While the billionaire might have chosen to stay out of public space to avoid media attention that could further escalate the entire situation, it is also likely he might have been picked up for questioning given the Chinese government modi operandi.
Flour Mills of Nigeria Repays N51.64 Billion Series 2 Commercial Paper
Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN) has successfully repaid its N51.64 billion Series 2 Commercial Paper as revealed in a statement issued by the company.
This follows the earlier repayment of its N13.33 billion Series 1 Commercial Paper in August 2023.
Both the Series 1 and Series 2 Commercial Papers, totaling N64.97 billion, were initially issued on February 22, 2023, under FMN’s N200 billion Commercial Paper Programme.
The Series 1, with a yield of 13.0%, raised N13.3 billion, while the Series 2, with a yield of 14.0%, raised N51.64 billion.
FMN had launched its N200 billion Commercial Paper Programme on February 10, 2023, reflecting the company’s strategic financial planning.
The Group Chief Finance Officer, Mr. Anders Kristiansson, expressed satisfaction with the timely and successful repayment of the Series 2 Commercial Paper.
He emphasized FMN’s commitment to financial prudence and acknowledged the confidence placed in the organization by the investing public.
Kristiansson expressed gratitude to stakeholders for their continuous support, reiterating FMN’s dedication to delivering sustainable value and upholding the highest standards of corporate governance.
In addition to the successful repayment, FMN tapped into the market for its Series 3 Commercial Paper in June 2023, with subscriptions from banks and Pension Fund Administrators, contributing 39.7% and 40.8%, respectively.
The transaction was managed by FBNQuest Merchant Bank Limited as the Lead Arranger, with ChapelHill Denham Advisory Limited, FCMB Capital Limited, and United Capital PLC serving as Joint Arrangers.
African Airlines Projected to Cut Losses to $400m in 2024, Says IATA
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecasted a reduction in losses for Nigerian and other African airlines from $500 million in 2023 to $400 million in 2024.
The Switzerland-based IATA made this projection while presenting the global airline industry outlook in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
IATA’s Director-General, Willie Walsh, shared the outlook, stating that global airlines are expected to generate approximately $964 billion in revenue in the coming year.
The report indicated that airline industry net profits are anticipated to reach $25.7 billion in 2024, reflecting a slight improvement over the projected $23.3 billion net profit for 2023.
Despite the challenges faced by the aviation industry in recent years, IATA sees the $25.7 billion net profit in 2024 as a testament to aviation’s resilience.
Walsh acknowledged the impressive speed of recovery but emphasized that the net profit margin of 2.7% remains below industry expectations.
IATA estimates that around 4.7 billion people will travel in 2024, surpassing the pre-pandemic level of 4.5 billion recorded in 2019.
However, Walsh highlighted ongoing challenges, including regulatory burdens, fragmentation, high infrastructure costs, and a supply chain populated with uncertainties.
He emphasized the need for the industry to build a resilient future, given its significant contribution to global GDP and livelihoods.
Fuel prices are expected to average $113.8 per barrel in 2024, accounting for 31% of all operating costs, totaling $281 billion.
Walsh concluded by expressing optimism about more normal growth patterns for both passenger and cargo in the post-pandemic era.
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