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ArcelorMittal South Africa to cut more than 2,000 jobs

Shares in the company, majority-owned by ArcelorMittal, dropped more than 10%

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ArcelorMittal South Africa to cut over 2,000 jobs | News Central TV
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The South African arm of steelmaker ArcelorMittal expects to plunge to a first-half loss and cut more than 2,000 jobs as it struggles with cheap imports, rising costs, and a flagging local economy, it warned on Wednesday.

Shares in the company, majority-owned by ArcelorMittal, dropped more than 10% after it said previous initiatives to reduce costs had proved insufficient and so it was contemplating a “large-scale” restructuring. 

“More significant measures have become necessary, including the review of staffing levels, together with other interventions,” it said in a statement. 

“It is anticipated that in excess of 2,000 positions (full-time equivalents) may be affected,” it continued, adding the final number was subject to formal consultation.

The company employed around 8,850 people in 2018, according to its annual report for that year. 

ArcelorMittal South Africa, which has, for some time, complained about cheap imports eating into its business, said ongoing challenges in the steel industry, as well as a weak South African economy, had hit its performance. 

These factors had been exacerbated by high costs for power, rail and port use, as well as raw materials, it said. 

The company said it expected headline results to fall by at least R650 million in the first half of its financial year, plunging it deep into a loss compared with earnings of R54 million in the same period last year.

It said it would release a further trading statement once it has more certainty on headline earnings per share, the main profit measure in South Africa that strips out certain one-off items, and loss per share. 

At 08:45 GMT, the company’s shares were down 9.3% at R31.4, off an earlier low of R28.7. 

It also said, however, that its overall first-half loss for the period was expected to improve by at least R700 million, resulting in an improvement in loss per share.

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Zimbabweans lament after price of bread rises by 60% overnight

Bakers said they were forced to hike their prices due to rising production costs

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Zimbabweans lament after price of bread rises by 60% overnight

The price of bread shot up 60 per cent overnight in Zimbabwe, in the latest blow for a population already struggling with spiralling living costs.

Zimbabweans can barely keep pace with the price rises that have rekindled fears of hyperinflation which reached 500 billion per cent a decade ago and forced the country to trash its own currency.

Already, many families live on one meal a day, with the country in the grip of a major downturn that has provoked biting shortages of basics such as fuel and medicine.

Bakers said they were forced to hike their prices due to rising production costs.

Electricity prices have “gone up significantly, the price of fuel has also been going up weekly, the prices of raw materials have also gone up including the cost of importing wheat,” said Dennis Wala, the president of the National Bakers’ Association.

Electricity is only available for around six hours a day, forcing many bakers to use generators to run their ovens.

“The bread manufacturer is at the end of the value chain and we have to factor in all these costs, but we don’t prescribe prices to our members,” Wala told reporters.

The price of a loaf of bread soared to 15 Zimbabwe dollars (around US$1) on Wednesday from nine dollars the previous day, according to a correspondent.

Bread is the second most important staple in the country after a thick cornmeal porridge known in the local Shona language as “sadza”.

After decades of mismanagement under former President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe reached absurd levels of hyperinflation in 2008-2009 when the central bank started printing money.

Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa has failed to stop the latest inflation surge, last week begging for patience to bring the economy back from the “dead”.

But the economy is near breaking point.

Hundreds of thousands of government workers said this week they could no longer afford to report for duty as their wages had been rendered almost worthless.

Last week, the authorities quadrupled the price of electricity — which is already in short supply after a 400 per cent hike in August.

Earlier this month, the price of fuel rose more than 25 per cent, the latest in series of regular increases.

The official inflation rate was 290 per cent last month, but economists estimate it is at least double that figure.

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Nigeria to sign military cooperation deal with Russia

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari is due to meet Putin on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in Sochi

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Nigeria to sign military cooperation deal with Russia

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari hopes to sign a military-technical cooperation deal with Russia at talks with President Vladimir Putin this month that will help it fight Boko Haram militants.

The Nigerian leader is due to meet Putin on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea city of Sochi amid a push by Moscow to expand its influence in Africa.

“We’re sure that with Russian help we’ll manage to crush Boko Haram, given Russia’s experience combating Islamic State in Syria,” Nigerian envoy, Steve Ugbah said in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency, adding that Nigeria was interested in purchasing Russian helicopters, planes, tanks and other military equipment.

Ugbah says a military-technical cooperation deal between Russia and Nigeria had already been drafted and that it is awaiting finalisation. 

“We hope President Buhari can take the talks to their logical end. The agreement will open new possibilities in such areas as the supply of military equipment and training for specialists,” he adds.

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Nigeria, Cameroon to plan Cocoa price cartel

The plan suggested by Nigeria is part of a trend by cocoa growers in West Africa and Latin America

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Nigeria, Cameroon to plan Cocoa price cartel

Nigeria aims to team up with Cameroon to agree on a premium for its cocoa with buyers, after the world’s top growers, Ivory Coast and Ghana set a price floor for the crop.

The plan suggested by Nigeria, the world’s fourth-largest cocoa producer, is part of a trend which has seen growers in West Africa and Latin America seek to influence prices in the global market.

The move follows Ghana and Ivory Coast’s union in July, which set the price for a ton of cocoa from their countries at $2,600 plus a $400 premium described as “living income differential”.

READ: Cocoa industry stakeholders accept Ghana, Ivory Coast price

Both countries produced 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa in 2018.

Vice President of the World Cocoa Producers Organisation, Sayina Riman says discussions will be held with the private sector and the Nigerian Government before formal talks are held with Cameroon.  

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