Short-term volatility and uncertainty in the African growth story create opportunities for hedge funds. Hedge funds generally operate flexibly than private equity, and they have the creativity to generate bond-like returns that outpace inflation. Critics say hedge funds have limited liquidity in an opaque world. The riskiest play — but with big returns — is in agriculture and land. Where land is for sale in Africa, investors are making a play for a limited resource, especially when it’s arable, ripe for production or ideal for commercial and residential construction.
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Staff, 5:34 pm
South African food giant Pioneer said the deal would have created Africa’s largest consumer goods company. The deal was 95 percent finalized when the country’s foreign-currency debt was downgraded to junk by S&P and Fitch. The downgrade followed Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle and removal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. It’s not clear what impact the downgrade will have on M&A in South Africa. With economic conditions expected to worsen, companies could struggle and could go through a period of distressed sales.
Staff, 3:59 pm
Wind and solar power in Africa are short-term solutions that cannot fix serious, immediate problems. African cities need abundant, reliable electricity, and they need it now. Wind and solar do not equal real economic development or really improved living standards. African governments need to stand up to Europeans, global banks and environmentalists who oppose big power plants in Africa. Our leaders need to remember that Europe and the U.S. did not have a World Bank or other outside help when they modernized and industrialized. They did it themselves.
Staff, 2:42 pm
Huarong Zhang is chairman of Huajian Group, whose Chinese factories make shoes for Ivanka Trump, Nine West, Michael Kors and other Western brands. This week, Zhang brokered a $ 1.5 billion deal with the Nigerian government to build a shoe factory Nigeria. Huajian already has a shoe factory in Ethiopia manufacturing more than 2,000 pairs of shoes a day that are exported to the U.S. and European markets. Huajian produces 12 million pairs of shoes a year, mostly high-end brands for European and U.S. markets. They typically sell for at least $100 a pair in the U.S.
Tom Jackson, 12:36 pm AFKI Original
Banks are partnering with startups to avoid the damage done by Instagram and mobile phone cameras to companies like Kodak, and by Netflix to Blockbuster. Across Africa, banks are choosing to work with startups rather than compete against them. Citibank has run mobile challenges in Nairobi, Standard Bank has incubators in South Africa, and Barclays has just selected its second cohort in its Cape Town-based accelerator. Fintech startups are reimagining the concept, delivery and consumption of financial services in ways banks have been unable. However, such companies lack the financial clout and access to customers to ensure mass uptake of their solutions. Banks can offer them this.
Peter Pedroncelli, 5:36 am
The World Bank Group has committed to supporting the growth of Africa’s digital economy with the launch of XL Africa, a business acceleration initiative that will provide a raft of benefits for the 20 most promising startups in sub-Saharan Africa over the next five months. African digital entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to be mentored by various global specialists, increase their visibility on the continent and receive access to corporate partners and investors.
Dana Sanchez, 9:40 pm
Mastercard hopes to roll out fingerprint payment cards globally by the end of 2017. South Africans’ willingness to try new technology and their familiarity with using biometrics for identification made the country an ideal market to test the payment cards. They’ll work with any card terminal around the world that accepts embedded chip technology. In the U.S., embedded chips are increasingly popular. Regulations make merchants and financial institutions liable for breaches resulting from a lack of support for chip-and-pin cards. Some merchants won’t have to get new equipment to accept fingerprint-enabled cards.
Dana Sanchez, 4:53 pm
An IPO today on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange introduced a new option for investors who want to add African exposure to their portfolios. The AMI Big 50 ex-SA ETF offers 50 African blue-chip companies outside South Africa. The IPO is a world first – an ETF offering exposure to a pan-African index that excludes South Africa. “A lot of people do worry about the liquidity risk, but being an ETF means that there is a secondary market on the JSE which allows investors in smaller quantities to trade exposure in and out of Africa,” a stakeholder said. The ETF is managed by Cloud Atlas, which plans to launch two more Africa-focused ETFs by July.
Peter Pedroncelli, 7:53 am AFKI Original
Senegalese winger Sadio Mane has been in stunning form for Liverpool this season, earning him a coveted place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year. The Professional Footballers’ Association announced their best 11 of the season thus far on Thursday, and of the 11 players selected by position, Mane was placed within his favoured right wing role. After missing out on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist last week, the Teranga Lions star will be pleased to have made it into the team of the year.
Peter Pedroncelli, 4:46 am
Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr has publicly stated that a return to the Super Eagles is a possibility for internationally retired goalkeeper and former captain, Vincent Enyeama. The German coach opened the door to his return, making it clear that he is welcome to reignite his national team career if he is willing to work hard and be humble. The Nigerian shot-stopper decided to retire from the Super Eagles in October 2015 following the revelation that then coach Sunday Oliseh had chosen for Ahmed Musa to captain the side, rather than the veteran keeper.
Staff, 2:57 pm
At a time when aid is under political pressure, a bold approach is needed to maximize the efficiency of donor resources. While governments in Africa are spending more on public infrastructure themselves, outside finance is still required, especially for regional projects — rarely a priority for national governments. Aid from Africa’s traditionally generous foreign donors is set to shrink. There may be a solution. The “Big Bond” is a strategy for leveraging foreign aid funds in international capital markets to generate financing for massive infrastructure investment.
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