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Accounting Firms KPMG and PwC Exit Russia and Belarus

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KPMG

Two big accounting enterprises, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) have disclosed that they will remove their member firms in Russia and Belarus due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to KPMG, its consultancy network in Belarus and Russia will no longer be active as Russia’s military spread across Ukraine. However, this update will notably affect over 4,500 partners and staff in Russia and Belarus.

According to PwC, its Russia-based network will be discontinued after operating in the country for over 30 years with 3,700 partners and staff. PwC however, didn’t mention any update regarding Belarus.

“As a result of the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine we have decided that, under the circumstances, PwC should not have a member firm in Russia and consequently PwC Russia will leave the Network,” PwC disclosed in a statement on Sunday, 6th March.

KPMG and PwC are the lastest companies to sever ties with Russia and Belarus distinctively, following the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. This is also coming on the heels of a number of sanctions that have been served Russia by the U.K., EU and the U.S. These sanctions are forcing firms globally to consider whether they should continue working with Russian clients who are state-owned.

Investors King recalls that other firms like Adidas, Visa, Mastercard and a number of other companies have pulled out services from Russia.

Experts and analysts have also projected that the sanctions from KPMG and PwC may be tied to the U.S. and other Western allies having voted to remove some Russian banks from SWIFT in the past week and also coming on the decline in market value for many companies and Russian-based companies.

Experts also project that as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, more sanctions may be on the way against Russia in the coming weeks. In another update, Britain revealed that it is creating a legislature seeking to speed up its sanctions process against Russia on Monday, 7th March.

According to the British government, the new legislation will be designed to allow ministers tighten restrictions on Russian businesses and wealthy individuals.

While these sanctions are served to make Russia pull back its forces, it is also leading to heavy unemployment to Russians.

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Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery Breaks Into Asian Market with LSSR Shipment

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Aliko Dangote - Investors King

In a historic move, Dangote Refinery is set to ship low-sulfur straight-run fuel oil (LSSR) from Nigeria to Singapore this week, its entry into the Asian market.

This development represents a significant milestone for the refinery, which began operations in January following a $20 billion investment.

According to ship tracking data and market sources, the refinery will initiate a new trade route from Nigeria to Asia, a region that consistently demands low-sulfur fuel oil for ship refueling at Singapore, the world’s largest bunker hub.

The Glencore-chartered vessel, Front Brage, will deliver approximately 124,000 metric tons (787,400 barrels) of LSSR to Singapore, with the shipment expected to arrive on Wednesday.

The Dangote Refinery, with a processing capacity of up to 650,000 barrels of products per day, is poised to become the largest refinery in Africa and Europe once it reaches full capacity.

Since March, the refinery has increased its LSSR exports, primarily sending cargoes to the Americas and Europe, as reported by ship tracking data from Kpler and Vortexa.

“This first shipment to Asia marks a new chapter in Dangote Refinery’s expansion strategy,” said a market analyst. “Breaking into the Asian market underscores the refinery’s growing influence and its capability to meet diverse global fuel demands.”

Market sources suggest that the cargo was redirected to Asia due to weaker demand in Europe. Data from LSEG indicates that the east-west spread for front-month 0.5 percent LSFO, reflecting the price difference between these regions, stayed above $40 per ton this week.

Dangote’s LSSR cargoes are priced against Rotterdam’s 0.5 percent LSFO quotes on a free-on-board basis, although the specific pricing differential for this shipment was not disclosed by market sources.

This pioneering shipment is the beginning of a series of exports to Asia. Another LSSR shipment from the Dangote refinery, containing around 157,000 tons, is expected to reach Singapore in July aboard the vessel Stena Suede, based on ship tracking data.

LSSR is typically blended with other fuels to create low-sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) for bunkering or used as feedstock in various refinery processes.

This export initiative not only diversifies Dangote Refinery’s market reach but also enhances Nigeria’s position in the global energy market.

In February, Dangote began exporting oil products and started purchasing crude oil, mainly from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd, in December 2023.

The refinery’s successful entry into the Asian market is anticipated to drive further growth and establish new trade relationships, reinforcing its status as a key player in the global oil industry.

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This landmark export not only demonstrates Dangote Refinery’s operational capabilities but also signals Nigeria’s expanding influence in the global energy sector. As the refinery continues to innovate and expand, it is well-positioned to meet the increasing global demand for cleaner, more efficient fuels.

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From 1999 IPO to AI Titan: Nvidia’s 591,078% Return on Investment

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Nvidia Corp. has transformed from a fledgling chipmaker to the world’s most valuable company, boasting an astronomical total return of 591,078% since its initial public offering (IPO) in 1999.

This unparalleled growth underscores the company’s pivotal role in the technological revolution, particularly in the realms of graphics processing and artificial intelligence (AI).

Nvidia’s ascent to the top of the market culminated on Tuesday, as it unseated Microsoft Corp. to claim the title of the world’s most valuable company, with a market capitalization of $3.34 trillion.

The company, which debuted on the Nasdaq stock exchange at a modest valuation, has added over $2 trillion to its market cap this year alone, driven by surging demand for its cutting-edge AI chips.

The Early Years: Laying the Foundation

When Nvidia launched its IPO in 1999, the tech landscape was vastly different. Intel dominated semiconductors, and Nvidia was a relatively unknown entity.

However, the company’s strategic focus on developing advanced graphics processing units (GPUs) quickly set it apart. By securing deals to supply GPUs for popular video-game consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation, Nvidia established itself as a key player in the gaming industry.

Overcoming Challenges: Litigation and Competition

The path to success was not without obstacles. In the early 2000s, Nvidia faced significant challenges, including a major legal dispute with Intel that temporarily pushed it out of a crucial market segment. The stock also endured three separate annual declines of over 50%, testing the resolve of its investors.

However, Nvidia’s commitment to innovation and strategic foresight kept it moving forward. In 2012, the company introduced graphics chips for servers in data centers, opening a new and lucrative market. Although initial sales were slow, this move laid the groundwork for future growth in high-performance computing.

The AI Revolution: A New Era of Growth

Nvidia’s fortunes took a dramatic turn with the advent of AI. The company’s GPUs, initially designed for rendering video game graphics, proved to be exceptionally well-suited for the parallel processing tasks required in AI and machine learning. This versatility positioned Nvidia as a leader in the AI hardware market.

The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 was a pivotal moment. As interest in AI applications skyrocketed, so did the demand for Nvidia’s chips. The company’s revenue from data centers, driven by AI-related sales, began to eclipse its traditional gaming revenue. By the first quarter of 2023, Nvidia’s earnings report revealed a jaw-dropping surge in sales, far exceeding Wall Street’s expectations.

A Test of Staying Power

Despite its meteoric rise, Nvidia faces ongoing challenges. Sustaining its current market position will require continued innovation and substantial investment in AI infrastructure. The company’s future success hinges on the broader adoption of AI technologies and the ability of its customers to generate significant returns on their investments in AI hardware.

Vision and Leadership: The Jensen Huang Effect

Much of Nvidia’s success can be attributed to the visionary leadership of co-founder and CEO Jensen Huang. His foresight in steering the company towards “accelerated computing” has been instrumental in Nvidia’s dominance. Under Huang’s guidance, Nvidia has consistently been at the forefront of technological advancements, catching every wave of innovation in hardware.

The Road Ahead

As Nvidia continues to navigate the complexities of the global tech market, its story serves as a testament to the power of strategic vision and innovation. With AI set to revolutionize industries from healthcare to automotive, Nvidia’s role as a key enabler of this transformation positions it for continued success.

Investors and analysts alike will be watching closely to see if Nvidia can maintain its lead in the fiercely competitive AI market. If its past performance is any indication, the future looks promising for this once-modest chipmaker turned AI titan.

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Dangote Group Expands Refinery Storage Capacity to 5.3 Billion Litres

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Dangote Refinery

The Dangote Group has announced a significant expansion of its refinery storage capacity.

The expansion, disclosed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group, during his address at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and AfriCaribbean Trade & Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Currently boasting a storage capacity of 4.78 billion litres, the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery is set to increase this figure by an additional 600 million litres, bringing the total capacity to an impressive 5.3 billion litres.

This expansion underscores Dangote’s commitment to transforming Nigeria into a hub for refined petroleum products and solidifies the refinery’s role as a strategic reserve for the nation.

Addressing stakeholders at the forum, Dangote highlighted the refinery’s pivotal role in addressing longstanding challenges in Nigeria’s energy sector, particularly the absence of strategic reserves for petrol.

“The country doesn’t have strategic reserves in terms of petrol, which is very dangerous. But in our plant now, when you came, we had only 4.78 billion litres of various tankage capacity. But right now, we’re adding another 600 million,” Dangote affirmed.

The expansion comes amidst various operational challenges faced by the refinery, including attempts by international oil companies to hinder its operations.

Dangote asserted that these challenges, aimed at impeding the success of the refinery, were indicative of broader resistance to change within the oil industry.

“We borrowed the money based on our balance sheet. I think we borrowed just over $5.5bn. But we paid also a lot of interest as we went along, because the project was delayed because of a lack of land, also the sand-filling took a long time,” Dangote revealed, emphasizing the resilience required to overcome these obstacles.

Moreover, Dangote expressed optimism regarding the refinery’s capacity to influence regional fuel prices, citing the success story of diesel price reduction following the refinery’s market entry.

He indicated that while petrol pricing remains a complex issue governed by governmental policies, the refinery’s operations would strive to offer competitive pricing and supply stability.

The expansion of the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery not only marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s industrial landscape but also positions the conglomerate as a key player in reshaping Africa’s energy dynamics.

As construction progresses towards completion, the refinery aims to further consolidate its role in meeting regional energy demands and fostering economic growth across West Africa.

With plans to commence sales of refined products in the coming months, Dangote’s refinery is poised to play a transformative role in Nigeria’s quest for energy independence and regional economic integration.

As stakeholders await the refinery’s operational debut, expectations are high for its potential to drive down fuel prices and enhance energy security across the region.

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