Good morning

I seem to have woken up to a land without wifi. This is both disconcerting and inconvenient. But it does remind me how lucky we are to live in a world of constant internet. After all – not everyone can claim that: I remember the dial-up days…

The headlines:

  1. No real news on the Greek front, despite many articles of recycled commentary and 30 second soundbites from Euro-ministers that sound suitably ominous and threatening. Everyone seems to be expecting the debt swap (with private creditors) to get the go-ahead on Monday. Germany just wants everyone to agree. France wants the debt swap to include the ECB’s Greek debt holdings. There is talk of cutting interest rates on the bailout loans being given. The Netherlands and Finland want to delay the bailout until after elections. In response, the Greeks have told everyone to foxtrot oscar about election dates. In a rather brisk and chilly tone. Arab Spring, European Winter? Link: The CNBC updateThe Bloomberg UpdateAll the warnings about how bad it would be.
  2. Someone had offered to buyout Billabong, the surfwear company. TPG, a buyout company, has offered $823million for it: which works out to a premium of around 68% to the closing price immediately before the announcement. Billabong management seem to think that the offer is too low. Link: Billabong Buyout.
  3. Twitter is expanding its ad business. This is interesting because I wasn’t really sure how advertising on twitter works. But I do recall seeing Telkom’s 8ta tweets coming through on my timeline – which is strange, because I’ve never followed Telkom. Also, I’ve always wondered how certain users can be “promoted”. Turns out – they pay for it. And now Twitter is removing the minimum spend requirements. I expect to see less of the people I follow, and more of the firms I don’t. I fear this could get irritating. Link: Twitter expands ad business.
  4. The DRC plans to build the Inga Three Dam have been dealt a blow. BHP Billiton was meant to build an aluminium smelter plant in the area, which would have provided a significant and constant cash-flow to the hydroelectric project that the dam will power. BHP Billiton pulled out after assessing construction costs of the plant, and the World Bank has recently warned about the construction costs of the dam itself; but Congolese officials remain undeterred in their optimism. The mineral-rich country has been limited in its growth by a lack of access to infrastructure and electric power. Link: Inga Three Dam: BHP withdraws custom.
  5. General Motors announced a 62% increase in profits in its 2011 results, despite losses from its European operations. Link: GM Profits announced.
  6. And last, but not least, ABN Business News Briefs. The key points:
    • The Nigerian government has said that it expects its deficit to be higher this year as a result of reimplemented petrol-import subsidies. It plans to finance this with money taken from its crude oil savings. Makes symmetric sense to me.
    • Angola will export 1.79 million barrels of oil a day in April, up from a planned 1.61 million barrels. 
    • Paper-maker Mondi has offered to buyout a minority interest in one of its subsidiaries – worth around 280 million Euros.
    • Impala Platinum announced a 66% increase in interim headline earnings per share, mainly as a result of a weakened exchange rate. But there was also a slight increase in revenues despite strike troubles at their Rustenberg plant: where they fired 17,000 workers, losing around 3,000 ounces of platinum per day in production.
    • Woolworths interim headline earnings per share are also up by around 35%, thanks to an 11% improvement in revenues, as well as share buybacks (which reduce the number of shares that the earnings are being split between – hence the large increase in earnings per share). 
    • Nigeria plans to privatise three of its banks in around 12 to 18 months time. The banks were nationalised when it emerged during a 2009 audit that they were severely undercapitalised.
That’s all for now – have a great weekend!