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Tells it All - Namibian Sun

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    Zuckerberg nixes new Facebook share class Zuckerberg nixes new Facebook share class Shareholder lawsuit change plans Withdrawing the share plan comes as Facebook faces pressure over advertisements on the social network. WILMINGTON, Del. - Facebook Inc Chairman Mark Zuckerberg abandoned plans on Friday to create a new class of company stock with no voting power, which was meant to be a way for Zuckerberg to retain control over the company he founded while fulfilling a pledge to give away his wealth.

    Zuckerberg on Friday said that he could meet the charity pledge and maintain voting control of Facebook without the change. His decision followed a shareholder lawsuit opposed to the creation of a new class of stock.

    Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook that the company's stock had performed well enough that he could fund his philanthropy by selling stock for at least 20 years and still retain voting control of the company. In December 2015 Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician, pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook shares to charity.

    According to court records, Zuckerberg owns more than 400 million shares of Facebook. That would value his holdings at a minimum of US$68.2 billion, based on the company's closing share on Friday of US$170.54.

    Zuckerberg said he wanted to help solve global challenges "like curing all diseases in our children's lifetime and personalising education for every student."

    Zuckerberg said that over about the next 18 months he planned to sell 35 million to 75 million shares of Facebook, which at Friday's closing price would raise US$13 billion.

    Court

    The decision came as Zuckerberg was scheduled to testify on Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, in a shareholder lawsuit seeking to halt the Class C stock plan, which had been approved by shareholders.

    Sjunde AP-Fonden, a Swedish national pension fund, and The Amalgamated Bank sued last year, saying that Zuckerberg should have to pay for the right to retain control while selling stock.

    "We brought this case challenging a significant change in Facebook corporate governance, and by agreeing to abandon the reclassification we got everything we could have hoped to get,” said Lee Rudy of shareholder law firm Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check.

    Rudy said the Class C proposal was rejected by 80% of minority shareholders in a vote last year. Zuckerberg controls 60% of Facebook's stockholder vote, which helped carry the proposal.

    Google

    Google, now Alphabet Inc, proposed a similar stock reclassification in 2012, and court records show that Facebook's general counsel suggested Zuckerberg could use it as a model for Facebook.

    Google settled with shareholders in a deal that included a US$522 million dividend, payable under certain conditions.

    Withdrawing the share plan comes as Facebook faces pressure over advertisements on the social network and the role they may have played in last year's US presidential election.

    President Donald Trump questioned on Friday the company's decision to overhaul how it handles paid political ads amid investigations into alleged Russian interference in US elections. – Nampa/Reuters

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  • 09/24/17--15:00: Africa Briefs
  • Africa BriefsAfrica Briefs Nigerian banks below minimum liquidity ratio

    Four Nigerian banks are operating with too many non-performing loans on their books and with liquidity ratios below the minimum requirement, two members of the central bank monetary policy committee said.

    They did not name the lenders but said the four banks together were equivalent to at least one systemically important bank.

    Financial sector stress tests showed capital adequacy ratios for the industry in Nigeria worsened to 11.51% in June, from 12.81% in April, as against a regulatory minimum of 15% for lenders with international licenses.

    NPLs stood at 15.07% in June compared with 5% regulatory limit. The ratio stood at 8.17% when excluding the four lenders in question.

    – Nampa/Reuters

    ?

    Tanzania wants wall around mines

    Tanzanian President John Magufuli has ordered the military to build a wall around the country's tanzanite mines to counter smuggling, and said he had directed the central bank to start buying the precious stone to boost reserves.

    “All tanzanite gemstones will be controlled and will pass through one gate and he (Magufuli) ordered the (central) Bank of Tanzania to take part in the tanzanite buying trade,” said a statement from the presidency.

    – Nampa/Reuters

    ?



    Kenya Airways asks state help

    Kenya Airways has started talks with the government, seeking its help in coping with competition from foreign carriers operating flights to its Nairobi hub.

    The airline, part-owned by the state and Air France-KLM, is restructuring its finances to cut huge debts and reduce finance costs to help it return to profitability after years of losses.

    The losses, caused by a slump in tourism due to frequent attacks in Kenya by militants from neighbouring Somalia, came at a time when the airline was taking on debt to buy new planes and as Gulf-based rivals ratcheted up competition.

    Some of the foreign competitors enjoy massive state support including subsidies, the airline said, without providing names.

    – Nampa/Reuters

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    Getting ­infrastructure back on trackGetting ­infrastructure back on trackPrivate sector must play bigger role At current tax rates, Government won't be able to foot the bill for the N$255-billion backlog in infrastructure development. Why not toll new roads, thereby increasing the transport network at little to no cost to the taxpayer? – Namene Kalili, FNB Namibia Namibia has a backlog of N$255 billion in infrastructure development and a lot has to be done if the goals of the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) are to be achieved.

    “Over the past couple of weeks, the Namibian road sector has been in the news for a variety of reasons - be it financially or with regard to the upkeep of numerous roads used by companies, individuals and tourists alike. Fact is, we are currently lagging behind when it comes to road and rail infrastructure, something that is of vital importance to a country that strives to become a logistics and distribution hub by 2030,” says Namene Kalili, Senior Research and Development Manager at FNB Namibia.

    An investment of nearly N$34.6 billion is needed to meet NDP5's targets for road infrastructure and railway network development over the five years to 2021/20 – N$25.9 billion for roads and N$8.7 billion for rail.

    Of this, nearly N$2.5 billion should be spent on roads in the current fiscal, while N$1.01 billion is earmarked for rail.

    Kalili says the funds allocated for this in NDP5 are commendable, but points out that Namibia's current infrastructure development backlog currently amounts to N$255 billion.

    In 2014, the Bank of Namibia (BoN) broke down the infrastructure backlog as follows: Roads (N$17.9 billion), railway (N$60.9 billion), ports (N$34.9 billion), airports (N$9.7 billion), energy (N$50.8 billion), and housing (N$45 billion).



    Magnitude

    Projects of this magnitude, like roads, rail, housing, and to a certain extent even education and health services, cannot be achieved by Government alone, Kalili says.

    “For many years we have been advocating for much more private sector participation and the unlocking of investment channels to increase infrastructure spend. This would lessen the burden on Government so that they can focus on social services and governance.”

    For Namibia to be world class in terms of infrastructure, a huge amount of money is needed, something that the Government will not be able to raise at the current tax rates, he says.



    Investment vehicles

    “We feel that the private sector must start playing a much bigger role and not be seen as a provider of funds only. Namibians and non-Namibians alike use our roads and as such they should be allowed to participate and contribute towards the construction and maintenance of the roads through the right investment vehicles to enable even broader participation.

    “We are all aware that vehicle numbers and trade volumes have increased massively within SADC countries, but our infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the demand and hence the roads have become very congested.”

    Kalili called for more “freedom” in the maintenance, management and construction of infrastructure and less regulation on stakeholders as public goods and services. “Legislation may not allow road management to be implemented for a fee. Why not toll new roads, thereby increasing the transport network at little to no cost to the taxpayer and placing the expense squarely on the shoulders of those who choose to use such roads?”

    Kalili says this could lead to the creation of new road management companies, which could eventually list domestically to broaden equity participation, while reducing the road infrastructure backlog and increasing the quality of the national road network. “Listed entities are usually more transparent because of the strict public disclosure requirements from the stock exchange,” he says.

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    Association for metal fabrication formedAssociation for metal fabrication formed The First Namibian Association of Metal Fabrication (NAMF) to drive the implementation of the growth strategy until 2020 was introduced last week.

    The formation of the association follows the launch of the Growth Strategy for Metal Fabrication by Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko last November.

    Speaking at Thursday's meeting, newly elected NAMF Chairperson Brian Christian said the association wants to create synergy between all sectoral players and a link between the training institutions and ­consumers among other industry players.

    He said the association also hopes to sensitise the public about Namibia's capabilities when it comes to the metal fabrication industry while encouraging technical cooperation, development and improvement of products and a penetration of export markets.

    “Our industry is very underrated and sectoral growth needs to be formed around the metal fabrication industry,” Christian further said.

    He said benefits to the members will include reduction in production costs, access to markets to a certain degree and creating more trade among the members.

    “We would like to get more consideration on projects, be it private or Government projects. We feel as a group we could offer much better packages,” he emphasised.

    The association consists of 12 founding members from which a management committee was formed.

    The management committee consists of Christian, Nico Goosen (vice chairperson), Festus Nuuyango (treasurer), Anno Ndatipo (secretary), while Robby Amadhila and Rudolph Himarua are additional members.

    The committee will serve for a term of 12 months, after which an annual general meeting will be held to elect new members.

    – Nampa

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  • 09/24/17--15:00: Viva, Nambia!
  • Viva, Nambia!Viva, Nambia! US Pres. Donald Trump’s gaffe last week when he referred to Namibia as “Nambia” hosting a lunch for African leaders, Pres. Hage Geingob included, sparked a global media storm.

    Nampa reports Geingob said Trump’s blooper placed Namibia on the map.

    “While they think they are teasing the President, they had to explain Namibia, where it’s located; so we got good publicity because of that,” Geingob said on Thursday while addressing American investors at the Invest in Namibia forum that took place in New York.

    International papers ran stories on Namibia. Here is what some of them had to say about the country’s economy:

    “In some quarters, there was actually relief. Namibia maintains good relations with North Korea, spending about US$100 million on Pyongyang-led projects since 2002, officials recently told The Washington Post — a position that could bring Namibia into conflict with the Trump administration.” – The Washington Post

    “Rather, one of the big reasons Trump and the world is interested in the region is the vast supply of minerals.” – The San Diego Union Tribune

    “In 2013, Namibian diamonds were valued at US$805 per carat, according to the US Geological Survey.” – Time

    “Despite a large portion of its landmass being made up of desert areas, the region is rich in diamonds, gold, silver, base metals and uranium.” – International Business Times

    “The nation of 2.5 million people is one of the world's biggest producers of uranium.” - CNN

    “Until he takes some concrete steps on African policy, Trump risks being known on the continent chiefly as the creator of Nambia.” - Newsweek

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    NamBrew puts 'prost!' back into Local IndexNamBrew puts 'prost!' back into Local IndexShare price jumps 7% The Local Index ended last week at 591.30 points, the highest so far this year. Jo-Maré Duddy



    Investors were thirsty for Namibia Breweries Ltd's (NBS) shares last week and were willing to fork out for it.

    As such, NamBrew was the undisputed winner on the Local Index of the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) – not just in terms of share price increase, but also regarding total trade value.

    Of the nearly N$28.3 million worth of shares which changed hands on the Local Index last week, more than half was that of NamBrew. The group recorded total trade of nearly N$15.1 million for the week.

    NamBrew closed at N$37.25 per share on Friday, up 7% or N$2.45 a piece compared to the previous Friday. This increase meant NBS was the week winner on the Local and Overall Index of the NSX.

    The only other group on the Local Index which closed last week higher than the previous one was Capricorn Investment Group Ltd (CGP). CGP, with Bank Windhoek as its flagship brand, ended the week at N$18.15 per share, 0.3% or 6c per share higher than the previous one.

    CGP recorded total trade of more than N$9.04 million last week.



    FNB, Oryx

    FNB Namibia Holdings was the only group on the Local Index which saw share price movement. However, the group shed 1c or 0.02% on its share price to close the week at N$46.75.

    Nearly N$3.25 million of FNB Namibia's shares changed hands last week.

    The only other company on the Local Index which recorded trade in the week under review was Oryx Properties Ltd. A total of N$906 019 was traded at N$20.65 per share.

    The Local Index ended last week at 591.30 points, up 14.10 or 2.44% on the previous Friday, and the highest the index has been so far this year.

    About N$194.1 million was traded on the Overall Index last week. The index ended the week at 1 135.70 points, 14.93 or 1.33% higher than the previous Friday. The JSE All Share Index was up 0.35%. The Namibian-based company Trustco Group Holdings Ltd was the biggest loser on the Overall Index last week. It closed at N$4.80 per share, shaving 20c or 4% off its closing price of the previous week.

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    Letshego extends IPO, reduce price offerLetshego extends IPO, reduce price offer We are progressing well … however, as of today we, are not quite there yet. – Ester Kali, Letshego Namibia CEO Investors keen to get their hands on Letshego Namibia Holdings' shares before the company lists on the Local Index of the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) this Friday can now do so at a reduced price.

    Letshego Namibia Holdings on Friday announced an extension to their initial public offering (IPO) deadline to 12:00 tomorrow.

    In addition to the extended deadline, Letshego Namibia also reduced the share price offer from N$4.70 to N$3.80. This means that all individuals who applied for shares at the N$4.70 price will be awarded 23.5% more shares given the revised reduction in share price.

    Commenting on the latest development Letshego Namibia CEO Ester Kali said: “As is the case with all company IPO's internationally, Letshego has set its own minimum targets in order to achieve listing objectives. We are progressing well towards these; however as of today we are not quite there yet.

    “Extending our deadline by a few days and offering a reduced price should enable us to meet the last few hurdles towards a listing, while further enhancing the inclusive nature of our Ekwafo Letu IPO,” she said.



    Target price

    Namibia Equity Brokers (NEB) on Friday – before Letshego Namibia's announcement – released its position paper on the company. Its composite fair value assessment put NEB's target price at N$4.67 per share. At the time, it was lower than Letshego Namibia's original share offer price of N$3.70.

    NEB's composite fair value assessment is based on four methodologies: the multi-stage dividend discount model (DDM), the constant DDM, the forward price-earnings ratio (P/E), and the book value per share (BVPS).

    “With the increasing requirements of Regulation 28, the listing will widen the investment universe and afford the investors diversification scope. It is imperative to see more local listings on the NSX, to give the investing community an opportunity to acquire equity ownership and participation in local companies,” NEB analyst Elwis Katowu said.

    “Our composite fair value, which was arrived at by looking at the stock through the prism of the above-mentioned four different valuation methodologies, is nevertheless 3c per share lower than the listing price of 470 cents per share,” Katowu said.

    Letshego Namibia says the minimum number of shares applicants have to purchase remains constant at 200 per applicant. With Letshego Namibia's reduced share price offer of N$3.80, applicants will be entitled to 47 more shares for every 200 shares they apply for.

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    Zim can only billions in arrears when ‘economy is stronger’Zim can only billions in arrears when ‘economy is stronger’ HARARE - Zimbabwe's Finance Minister has said the southern African nation would not be able pay US$1.8 billion in arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) until economic fundamentals improve.

    Patrick Chinamasa said in a radio interview last week that a payment plan agreed with foreign lenders in 2015 in Lima, Peru, could only proceed once Zimbabwe has reduced its fiscal deficit from around 10% of gross domestic product, cut its wage bill from 92% of the budget and increased its import cover.

    Chinamasa said the government had negotiated a cheaper loan to pay the US$1.8 billion but had decided against paying after realising that the country could still remain in a debt cycle if it did not address its economic problems.

    He did not give the source of the new loan but said Zimbabwe was paying 15% a year on its World Bank loan. Zimbabwe's total foreign debt is more than US$7 billion.

    ‘Ball in our court’

    "When we think that the economic fundamentals of our economy are right, we then are in a position to repay the World Bank and the AfDB," Chinamasa told talk-show radio CapitalkFm.

    "We need to put ourselves in a position that is sustainable in terms of honouring our obligations. So, to that extent the ball is in our court."

    In April, Chinamasa said Zimbabwe had met all conditions to pay the World Bank and AfDB after clearing its outstanding dues to the International Monetary Fund last October.

    Zimbabwe, which ditched its hyperinflation-wrecked currency for the USdollar in 2009, has since last year grappled with acute shortages of US dollars.

    Chinamasa blamed the shortages on "market indiscipline" and "lack of confidence by major economic players" in the economy.

    He said to try manage scarce foreign exchange all export earnings from diamonds, gold, tobacco, platinum and ferrochrome would be managed by the central bank. – Nampa/Reuters

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    Construction slaughtered in second quarterConstruction slaughtered in second quarterGDP contribution lowest in 7 years Construction contributed a meager N$606 million to the GDP in the past quarter, N$656 million less than the same quarter in 2016. The construction sector will feel the full impact of Government's budgetary alignments this year. – Klaus Schade, Director: EAN About N$25.6 billion flowed into the Namibian economy in the second quarter this quarter, the least in three years.

    The past quarter's gross domestic product (GDP) – in constant 2010 prices that take inflation into account – is N$434 million less than the same quarter in 2016, penning the latest economic growth at -1.7%.

    The GDP in the first quarter of 2017 was about N$27.3 billion. Compared to this, N$1.7 billion less flowed into the economy in the second quarter.

    The latest figures released by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) show the country was stuck in a ­recession in the first six months of 2017. Last year, Namibia spent the second and third quarters in the red too.

    One of the major reasons Namibia remains in recession is construction. The sector's woes worsened in the second quarter with growth tumbling to -51.9%.

    In money terms, construction contributed a meager N$606 million to the GDP in the past quarter – N$656 million less than the same quarter in 2016. Compared to the first quarter of 2017, construction's contribution dropped by N$338 million.

    The last time construction pumped this little into the economy was in the third quarter of 2010.

    The NSA attributes the poor performance of the sector mainly to the real value of government expenditure on construction. In the past quarter it registered a contraction of 83.3% compared to an increase of 6.1% in the same quarter in 2016. The value of buildings completed, on the other hand, shows an increase of 16.6% compared to a steep decline of 40.9%, the NSA says.



    Boom collapses

    “The increase in the value of buildings completed is observed in the western and northern regions that registered growths of 65.6% and 112.0% respectively. However, the value of buildings completed by central region declined by 42.3% compared to a massive increase of 37.6% recorded in the second quarter of 2016,” according to the NSA.

    Analysing the latest growth data, PSG Namibia says the construction boom has collapsed as mining and other large infrastructure projects were completed in 2015 and Government suspended construction projects to contain rising public debt.

    “We expect the hard times in the construction sector to persist throughout 2017 as fiscal consolidation is set to continue and investment in the mining sector and other major infrastructure programmes has stalled,” PSG Namibia says.

    Simonis Storm agrees. “We view the recession in the construction sector to be protracted for the short to medium term due to the expected implementation of budget ceilings as part of the fiscal consolidation course.”

    Economic Association of Namibia (EAN) Director Klaus Schade says the construction sector will “feel the full impact of Government's budgetary alignments this year”.

    “The job losses in this sector will have a negative impact on the wholesale and retail trade sector that contracted over the past three quarters. The recent drop in interest rates will however relieve some pressure on consumer spending,” EAN says.



    Consumer

    Money flowing wholesale and retail trade into the economy in the past quarter amounted to nearly N$3.38 billion. Although N$189 million more than in the first quarter, it dropped by N$301 million compared to the second quarter in 2016.

    The sector registered negative growth for the past three quarters: -8.2% in the past quarter, -7.5% in the first quarter and -3% in the last quarter of 2016.

    According to the NSA total revenue of wholesale and retail trade grew by -2.3% in the past quarter. Supermarket sales recorded growth of -0.7%, while furniture sales grew by -11.6%. Vehicle sale growth came in at -24.6%, the NSA says.

    PSG Namibia says the poor performance of the sector reflects weaker domestic demand, job losses, fiscal tightening, stricter lending criteria and high inflation.

    According to SS the contraction in the wholesale and retail trade sector points to continued diminishing business confidence and insufficient foreign and domestic demand as consumers remains under pressure.

    SS forecasts economic growth of 0.5% this year, while PSG Namibia's prediction is 0.7%. Last year, Namibia's economy expanded by 1.1%.

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    Ford's Ranger Raptor headed for Southern AfricaFord's Ranger Raptor headed for Southern AfricaBest seller gets souped up A furiously fast bakkie is joining the line-up. Last week, Ford announced that its hugely popular Ranger bakkie will be available in an off-road performance variant for the first time.

    The purpose-built, desert-racing-inspired bakkie joins the Ford Performance family, as the new ‘Ranger Raptor’, says the automaker.

    Ford SA says: "The Ranger Raptor will be coming to Southern Africa, with further information to be revealed in due course."

    "Designed and engineered to deliver an adrenaline-pumping experience, Ford Ranger Raptor sports a head-turning exterior look that exudes toughness as well as a level of capability and off-road performance never before seen in the mid-size bakkie segment.

    "Sharing the same nomenclature as the F-150 Raptor, the world’s most extreme production bakkie, Ranger Raptor is in a class of its own among mid-size off-road performance vehicles."

    The automaker says: "Building on the success of the class-leading Ford Ranger, one of the best-selling bakkies in a number of markets, Ranger Raptor brings the thrilling off-road performance capabilities of the ‘Raptor’ to the Ranger for the first time ever.”

    Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Performance, says: "Combining the Raptor’s advanced off-road capabilities with the versatility of the Ranger is a significant accomplishment for Ford’s world-class engineering and design teams."

    Ranger Raptor joins F-150 Raptor to extend the globally renowned Ford Performance DNA, complementing the on-road high performance line-up of Ford GT, Ford Mustang Shelby, Focus RS, Focus ST and Fiesta ST.

    Earlier in September, Wheels24 reported that Ford SA had sold 6 482 vehicles in South Africa in August 2017, making it the automaker's second-best monthly volume this year – second only to the 6634 vehicles sold in January.

    *Novel Ford have confirmed that the Ranger Raptor will be available locally, but couldn’t provide any further details about the launch date, pricing and specs at this point.

    -Wheels24 and own reporting

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    Oil holds gains as producers say market rebalancingOil holds gains as producers say market rebalancingBrent near highest since March Russia's energy minister said no decision on extending output curbs beyond the end of March was expected before January. TOKYO - Oil prices stood little changed yesterday, keeping most of their gains from the previous session to hold near their highest levels in months, as major producers meeting in Vienna said the market was well on its way towards rebalancing.

    The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other producers have cut production by about 1.8 million barrels per day since the start of 2017, helping lift oil prices by about 15% in the past three months.

    Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam al-Marzouq, who chaired Friday's meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, said supply cuts were helping cut global crude inventories to their five-year average, OPEC's stated target.



    Curbs

    London Brent crude for November delivery was down 3 US cents at US$56.83 a barrel by 0304 GMT, near the highest since March. US crude for November delivery was down 8 US cents at US$50.58, having risen 0.2% on Friday.

    Russia's energy minister said no decision on extending output curbs beyond the end of March was expected before January, although other ministers suggested such a decision could be taken before the end of this year.

    “There is still ample time to decide for producers whether to extend output curbs beyond March,” said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo.

    “Oil is relatively underpriced compared with other markets, but any steep rise would be offset by rising shale oil production.”

    Attempts to curb supply have faced rising US shale oil output. US energy firms cut the number of oil rigs operating for a third week in a row as a 14-month drilling recovery stalled as companies pared back on spending plans.

    Hedge funds boosted bullish wagers on US crude oil to the highest level in one month, data showed.

    Elsewhere, Nigeria is pumping below its agreed output cap, its oil minister said.



    Germany, US

    Oil also came under pressure from the US dollar's rise against euro after Germany's election showed surging support for a far-right party that left Chancellor Angela Merkel scrambling to form a governing coalition.

    Markets were also nervously eyeing developments in North Korea. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday said President Donald Trump wants to avoid nuclear war with North Korea and “will do everything we can” to avoid conflict.

    Trump has dialled up the ­rhetoric against North Korea over the weekend, warning the country's foreign minister that he and leader Kim Jong Un “won't be around much longer,” as Pyongyang staged a major anti-US rally.

    – Nampa/Reuters

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  • 09/25/17--15:00: World in brief
  • World in briefWorld in brief German business confidence down

    Confidence among German businesses eroded slightly in September, a regular survey published yesterday found, reflecting uncertainty ahead of a general election on Sunday that has left Chancellor Angela Merkel facing tricky coalition talks.

    The Munich-based Ifo institute's closely-watched business confidence index fell to 115.2 points this month, a 0.7-point drop compared with August and short of predictions from analysts surveyed by Factset.

    "Companies were less satisfied with both their current business situation and their short-term outlook than in August," Ifo chief Clemens Fuest said.

    "Germany's economy nevertheless goes into the new legislative period with a strong tailwind," he added. – Nampa/AFP

    More US economists see risks

    Amid uncertainty over President Donald Trump's growth agenda, US economists increasingly are worried about risks to the economy, though they see little chance of a recession near term, according to a survey released yesterday.

    The National Association for Business Economists quarterly survey showed little change in the forecasts compared with June in key areas such as economic growth, which was projected at 2.2% in 2017 and 2.4% in 2018.

    But the September survey of about 50 economists showed 48% believe the risks to the economy are weighted to the downside, indicating chances for an economic slowdown, while 43% see the risks tilted to the upside, meaning growth could outpace forecasts.

    That is a shift from June, when upside risks outweighed downside risks by 60 to 36%. – Nampa/AFP

    Japan’s Abe announces stimulus package

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday ordered his cabinet to compile new economic stimulus measures in a package worth around 2 trillion yen (US$17.80 billion) by the end of the year.

    Abe said the package should focus on subsidising education, child-care costs, and on boosting corporate investments to improve productivity.

    Abe was expected to announce a snap election later yesterday to take advantage of improved ratings and disorganised opposition parties, and the stimulus package could be a way to lure voters during the election campaign. – Nampa/Reuters

    Siemens, Alstom on brink of rail merger

    France's Alstom and Germany's Siemens have a deal ready to sign to merge their rail businesses in the face of Chinese competition, German business daily Handelsblatt reported yesterday.

    The two groups have overcome past reservations about a joint venture with a "balanced agreement acceptable to both sides," Handelsblatt wrote citing "insiders" familiar with the deal.

    An Alstom-Siemens tie-up would bring together the engineering giants that make their countries' flagship high-speed trains, including France's world-famous TGV.

    Siemens brings in 7.8 billion euros of revenue annually from rail, while Alstom boasts sales of 7.3 billion euros. – Nampa/AFP

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    Will Nam follow in SA's footsteps with downgrade?Will Nam follow in SA's footsteps with downgrade? Namibia risks being downgraded to junk by Fitch too if Government is not able to address the concerns raised during the Moody’s review, says Duval van Zijl, an analyst at Bravura.

    Although Namibia’s gross domestic product (GDP) has expanded on average by 4.7% per year since 1990, the country is currently going through a technical recession classified as two successive quarters of declining GDP. According to the latest figures of the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), the economy contracted by 1.7% in both the first and second quarters of 2017. Namibia spent the second and third quarters of 2016 in recession too.

    Van Zijl says the downturn in the economy has coincided with various credit downgrades in Namibia, most notably the country’s long-term senior unsecured bond and issuer rating being downgraded to junk status (i.e. from a Baa3 to Ba1 rating). Other downgrades were made to the country’s long-term local and foreign currency bonds, as well as its long-term local and foreign bank deposits.

    Moody's has, however, maintained Namibia's local currency rating at BBB-, or “investment grade” status. Therefore, the government's secured debt obligations (long-term foreign currency bonds and deposits) are still of investment grade and long-term domestic bonds and deposits are of prime investment grade, he says.

    Investors

    Unlike South Africa, Namibia was able to avoid outright junk status. The Moody's downgrade only has bearing on Namibia's outstanding long-term unsecured bonds that are not backed by government guarantees. “However, a lack of investor appetite will effectively raise the cost of borrowing for the Namibia government in the international capital market. This could pose significant risk of financing the budget deficit in the future,” according to Van Zijl.

    “Both Moody's and Fitch had previously warned that the country's elevated debt levels and the sizeable deficit could potentially warrant a downgrade. Moody's assessment came despite the Namibian government's recent assurances that the country's economy had stabilised and was on the road to recovery.”

    Van Zijl says some of the most worrying and important statistics quoted in Moody’s report is that the public debt to GDP ratio has increased from 26% in 2011 to 42%, that the wage-bill (after already being one of the highest in Africa) increased from 40% of fiscal spend in the 2016/17 year to 45% in the 2017/2018 budgets, and that there is a complete over-reliance on South African Customs Union (SACU) revenue which makes up more than a third of government revenues.

    Strides

    “On a positive note, the Namibian economy is making significant strides towards recovery during 2017. Some key sectors are performing well – most notably the agricultural and mining sectors. 2017 has already seen a sharp deceleration in inflation and, more recently, moderating interest rates.

    “While the currency peg to the South African Rand will insulate Namibia from the most negative ramifications of the downgrade, positive trends in the economy, coupled with amendments to regulation 28 of the Pension Fund Act (which will require pension funds to hold 45% of their investments in Namibia), and rising import cover, will ease liquidity constraints and ensure that the economy remains adequately capitalised,” Van Zijl says.

    Monica Bohm, Head of Bravura Namibia, says another positive note is that recent shorter term Government bond issues had been oversubscribed by local investors, providing an indication that liquidity seems to be improving, although moderately. “This also assists in paving the road for improved economic growth for the remainder of the year - coming out of 1.1% economic growth during 2016 with an expected 2.9% growth for 2017,” Bohm says.

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    Nuclear power an option for NamibiaNuclear power an option for NamibiaGovernment should do its homework A base-load nuclear power station would help offset fluctuations in power supplied from renewable energy resources and guarantee a constant supply of electricity. Africa needs to be encouraged to explore other alternatives such as nuclear energy to complement its current energy supply. - Martin Fairclough, IAEA Africa needs to be encouraged to explore other alternatives such as nuclear energy to complement its current energy supply. - Martin Fairclough, IAEA

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    Weak Swiss demand hurts copper exportsWeak Swiss demand hurts copper exportsFrance, Spain and Zambia under pressure too Of Namibia's top ten export products in the past quarter, five registered a drop in earnings compared to the same period in 2016. Jo-Maré Duddy - Namibia's export earnings from copper cathode tumbled by N$645 million year-on-year in the second quarter of 2017 due to weaker demand from Switzerland.

    The country exported N$867 million worth of copper cathode in the past quarter, 42.7% less than the same quarter in 2016. Compared to the first quarter of 2017, the value of copper cathode exports dropped by N$311 million or 26.4%.

    The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) attributes the poor figures to a weaker demand in Switzerland.

    Export earnings from copper cathode registered the biggest year-on-year decline in the second quarter. As such, it played a major role in the country's total export earnings of about N$13.9 billion decreasing by N$1.5 billion year-on-year.

    Lower demand from France also hurt export earnings from copper ore on a yearly basis. Nearly N$2.2 billion worth of copper ore were exported in the past quarter, down about N$100 million compared to the same quarter in 2016. Lower demand from Spain and Zambia caused export earnings from fish to shrink by about N$400 million to nearly N$2.2 billion in the past quarter.



    Top ten

    Besides copper and fish, Namibia top ten exports in the quarter under review were diamonds, live animals, zinc, vessels, meat, beverages and vehicles. Some of the items, like vessels and vehicles, were mostly re-exported products.

    Of the top ten export products, five registered a drop in earnings compared to the second quarter of 2016. At N$580 million, zinc earnings were down N$196 million or 25%. About N$44 million less were earned from meat exports of N$266 million.

    Other major export products performed as follows: diamonds (N$4.7 billion: 2.7% up from the second quarter of 2016); live animals N$683 million (+40.9%); vessels (N$290 million: +37 749%); beverages (N$252 million: +11%); and vehicles (N$218 million: +14.3%).

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    Stimulus sells Joe's Beerhouse propertyStimulus sells Joe's Beerhouse property As property investments are non-core to the Stimulus portfolio, we waited for the right time to dispose of this asset. - Josephat Mwatotele, Stimulus director OGONE TLHAGE



    Stimulus has finalised the disposal of a Windhoek property on which Joe's Beerhouse is situated in compliance with the regulations of the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa).

    Speaking to Namibian Sun about the transaction, Ashburton Investments CEO and Stimulus director Josephat Mwatotele said the property was always seen as a residual investment.

    “We have always seen Joe's Beerhouse as a residual investment following the disposal of the Joe's Beerhouse restaurant business back in 2012. What we disposed of now through this transaction is the property-holding entity,” he said.

    “As property investments are non-core to the Stimulus portfolio, we waited for the right time to dispose of this asset as communicated previously.”

    Stimulus announced on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) last week that it had disposed of 100% of its ordinary shares in the property.

    Stimulus Investments Ltd is listed on the Local Index of the NSX where its preferential shares trade at N$121.29.

    According to Mwatotele the transaction is aligned to the long-term investment and asset holding strategy of Stimulus.

    Mwatotele had earlier explained the rationale behind the sale of the property, saying that it had to comply with regulations.

    “The rationale of selling the Joe's Beerhouse property is that it is a non-core asset, and according to Namfisa, property is defined as one of the assets that private equity companies cannot invest in,” Mwatotele was quoted in Windhoek Observer.

    Stimulus sold the popular eatery back to previous owners, Carel-Jean and Thomas Rechter, in 2012 while it continued to hold its investment in the property that houses the restaurant.

    In a market update provided by Stimulus at the time, it said the restaurant business would be better managed by an owner management entity.

    “Stimulus decided to sell because it believes Joe's will best be served as an owner management entity, given the high operational demands and daily attention to detail required in this type of operation,” it said.

    The business was sold to the Rechter family as a going concern, but Stimulus retained 100% ownership of the property located in Windhoek's Eros residential area.

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    Mbidi prefers Morocco for CHANMbidi prefers Morocco for CHANRegrets not getting hosting rights The Namibia football governing body hopes that the African Nations Championship (CHAN) will be played in a different atmosphere this time. Namibia Football Association (NFA) president Frans Mbidi feels that it will be good for the national team if the African Nations Championship (CHAN) is staged in Morocco.

    This is after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) stripped Kenya of the right to host the showpiece due to a lack of proper infrastructure and financial resources.

    At the moment, Morocco and South Africa are the two only countries likely to win the hosting rights.

    The decision to award the hosting rights to one of the two nations will be made soon.

    “I can say that we are ready to play in any country where the tournament will be taken to, but I do believe Morocco will be a good place.

    “We have played so many tournaments in South Africa and I do feel that it will be good to play in a different atmosphere like Morocco.

    “I will, however, reiterate that we are actually not so concerned about the country were the tournament will be taken to,” Mbidi said.

    He added that the venue would not make much difference to the cost of the trip, as FIFA would help fund the teams travelling to the competition.

    “We will however only be sure of how much we will need for the trip once the competition rights are given to a specific country.

    “All we will need to do is just give FIFA the invoices and they will take care of some of the cost.”

    He also emphasised the importance of having good infrastructure and deep pockets, stating that he regretted that Namibia could not host the tournament next year.

    Mbidi felt that Namibia could have made a bid to host the competition if it had the proper infrastructure.

    “This could have been a wonderful thing if this tournament was shifted to our country.

    “That is why I will continue to urge the government to focus more on building stadiums and improving the ones that we already have.

    “It is with this that I hope that Namibia will be able to host a competition of this nature sooner than expected,” he said.

    The fifth edition of the CHAN finals will be held early next year, with 16 teams competing for the grand prize of U$1.25 million (N$16.2 million).

    Namibia qualified to the showpiece after beating Zimbabwe and Comoros in the qualifying rounds.

    JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA

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    Paralympian hosts blindfold raceParalympian hosts blindfold race Twenty-six participants gathered at the DTS sports ground in Windhoek for a charity athletics event hosted by Namibia's three-time Paralympic gold medallist Ananias Shikongo.

    Shikongo and his guide runner, Even Tjiviju, trained 13 teams of two sighted participants in the art of competing in a visually impaired race.

    The line-up included teams from well-known Namibian entities such as NamPower, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, De-bushing Advisory Services, the Business and Intellectual Property Authority, NamClear and Business Financial Solutions (BFS) Fund Manager. Several family teams also entered.

    Team NamPower walked away with the trophy. The team from BFS Fund Manager took second place, while the Uusiku family team came third.

    The event, a joint venture by Shikongo's initiative, the Sport on the Move Foundation, and investment company BFS Fund Manager, was geared towards raising funds for the foundation and garnering public support for Para-athletics in Namibia.

    Shikongo said they showed the participants how visually impaired athletes compete.

    “After the training, the teams had the opportunity to show off what they had learned. For us, it is second nature now, but if you are used to being able to see where you run, let's just say it is something unexpected.”

    All entrance fees went to the foundation, so that it can fulfil its goal of offering promising young Namibian athletes opportunities that they would otherwise not have had.

    “As a start, we want to come alongside disabled Namibians with talent, drive and ambition, who do not have the resources and the support to realise this talent. I have experienced so many difficulties and faced so many obstacles just to be able to compete,” Shikongo added.

    Shikongo's dreams for the foundation go beyond Namibians with disabilities to assisting those who have the physical means but lack the funds and resources to prosper.

    “In the long term, we want to be able to support disadvantaged athletes – disabled and able-bodied – across all sports, with their most pressing needs.”

    According to Kauna Ndilula, managing director of BFS Fund Manager, the decision to support the foundation stems from admiration as well as the desire to make a difference in a group of deserving Namibians' lives.

    “Shikongo is a Namibian hero in more ways than one. He is a man who overcame not only a physical disability but also often lacked the funds to make the trip from his home to the sports field to train or to put food on the table.

    “Yet despite these significant challenges, he persevered and brought home the Olympic gold, to the pride and delight of Namibia. Now he wants to help others do the same,” Ndilula said.



    SPORTS REPORTER

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  • 09/26/17--15:00: Refresher course for coaches
  • Refresher course for coachesRefresher course for coaches A four-day refresher course for local basketball and football coaches is taking place in Windhoek at Basketball Artist School in Katutura with the support of GIZ.

    The coaching development course aims to impart knowledge to coaches so that they in turn can transfer knowledge to other aspiring coaches in the country.

    In addition, the course aims to update their knowledge of basketball and football rules and to make them aware of the latest developments in the field of sports coaching.

    The course also provides a chance to coaches to re-energise their coaching approaches.

    Twenty-five coaches are attending the course, conducted by sport for development expert Donny Jurgens with the assistance of Raymond Vries from SCORE Namibia, Malakia Matias and Ramah Mumba from BAS.

    Jurgens, the head facilitator, says they are using sport as a tool for development and equipping local coaches with the necessary information to train other coaches with the help of basketball and football manuals.

    He says they also want to add an element of life skills to sport coaching.

    The course ends tomorrow.

    LIMBA MUPETAMI

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    Tses to host Spring Soccer and Netball TournamentTses to host Spring Soccer and Netball Tournament The village of Tses in the //Karas Region will host the fifth edition of the Spring Soccer and Netball Tournament on 7 and 8 October.

    Tses is situated about 140 kilometres south of Mariental on the B1 road to Keetmanshoop.

    The football tournament is open to second- and third-division Namibia Football Association teams and non-league teams, with each team allowed to use two first-division players during matches.

    The organiser of the tournament, Thomas Godfriedt Tsuseb, says the idea behind the tournament is to keep young people busy and minimise drug and alcohol abuse.

    “We are also trying to market our players to first-division teams by allowing them to showcase their talent,” Tsuseb said.

    The first edition was won by Tses Football Club in 2013, with Young Beauties from Keetmanshoop winning the last three editions from 2014 to 2016.

    “With the help of businesses, we will be able to compete with the best and keep the young men focused,” he said.

    The winner of the football category will receive N$20 000 in cash, a floating trophy and 25 gold medals.

    The runners-up will walk away with N$10 000 and 25 silver medals. Semi-final losers will get N$4 500 each, while the top goal scorer will be rewarded with N$1 000. The Man of the Match of each game will receive a gold medal.

    The registration fee per football team is N$1 900.

    The netball winner will receive N$2 500, a floating trophy and 12 gold medals. The runners-up will walk away with N$1 500 and 12 silver medals, with the third-placed team getting N$1 000 and 12 bronze medals. The registration fee per netball team is N$600.

    The closing date for entries is 1 October. The draw will follow on 6 October and will be broadcast live on the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation's Damara/Nama Kaisames radio service.

    NAMPA

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