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MTN in fight for Nigerian assets

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The AFG last week ordered that MTN pay $2bn in unpaid taxes for foreign imports. Photo: Reuters

 

JOHANNESBURG – MTN, Africa’s biggest telecoms company, yesterday moved to protect its assets in Nigeria on behalf of its stakeholders, saying that it had decided to approach the country’s courts to restrain authorities from taking further action against it.

MTN said it had applied to the Federal High Court of Nigeria for an injunctive relief against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the attorney-general of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (AFG).

The decision came after the company’s stock tanked significantly last month when the CBN demanded that it put an $8.1 billion (R123.29bn) refund for allegedly illegally taking money out of that country.

The CBN also reportedly fined four of the country’s banks for their part in helping illegally send $8.134bn out of the country, in breach of foreign exchange regulations.

To add to MTN’s woes, the AFG last week ordered that it pay $2bn in unpaid taxes for foreign imports.

Denied allegations

The company has denied both allegations, saying that it would continue to defend its position.

“We remain resolute that MTN Nigeria has not committed any offences and will continue to vigorously defend its position,” the company said in a statement yesterday.

In 2015 Nigerian authorities slapped MTN with a $5.2bn fine for missing the deadline to disconnect 5.1 million subscribers with unregistered SIM cards.

The fine led to a massive sell-off in MTN stock.

It also saw the telecommunications firm bleeding cash and recording substantive losses in subsequent reporting periods as uncertainty over the company’s viability persisted.

The latest fallout between MTN, AFG and CBN has seen international ratings agency Moody’s placing MTN on review.

Moody’s last week said uncertainty around the potential implications of the recent CBN and NAG announcements on MTN’s credit profile could spark a downgrade.

“MTN’s management has indicated that both allegations are without merit and they will be engaging with the relevant authorities,” Moody’s said.

Peter Takaendesa, a portfolio manager at Mergence Investment Managers, yesterday described MTN’s decision to approach the courts as necessary to protect its interests.

Takaendesa also said that the business needed to continue operating, and this required MTN Nigeria to continue to have full access to its operating assets.

“The unprecedented amounts being demanded by the Nigerian authorities would cripple MTN Nigeria if settled as demanded,” he concluded.

– BUSINESS REPORT

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South Africa: New Export Tax on Chrome Ore Intended to Resurrect the Ferrochrome Industry, but challenges prevail

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Image Source: Expatica

The  South African government recently approved a tax on South Africa’s exported chrome, although the tax percentage and further details are still to be announced.

The ferrochrome ore industry has been severely threatened in recent years, mostly due to increases in electricity tariffs for heavy use industries, which, combined with the unreliable supply of electricity in South Africa, have crippled the industry to such an extent that reportedly 40% of the coThe  South African government recently approved a tax on South Africa’s exported chrome, although the tax percentage and further details are still to be announced.untry’s ferrochrome mines have been unable to continue production.

Some industry stakeholders have suggested that a special electricity tariff would be a better way to support the ailing industry, stating that the export tax will not provide much benefit if electricity supply and costs to the industry are not addressed. Some in the industry feel that the challenges chrome ore producers face mean that they would not be able to sustain themselves, even after tax relief. This would not only negatively affect exports, but the downstream industry as well.

South Africa is one of the world’s largest producers of ferrochrome and the industry could have a vital role to play in the country’s pandemic recovery, if its challenges can be successfully addressed. Currently, the country exports 84% of ferrochrome to China, with Turkey and Zimbabwe, for example, producing smaller amounts. There has been concern that an export tax would mean other countries would be able to offer ferrochrome at cheaper prices than South Africa, with the country losing significant market share in the process. While China sources most of its chrome ore from South Africa, this could change if the product was available cheaper from other countries. However, it has also been noted that it would be difficult to China to move away from the type of ferrochrome it imports from South Africa.

Others in the industry, however, welcome the reprieve that an export tax would provide. India and Tanzania are examples of countries that have implemented successful export taxes for chrome ore, which have resulted in increased tax bases, higher investment in the industry, benefits to the local communities and skills development.

Key industry stakeholders have expressed interest in collectively undertaking research to explore a more viable and consolidated approach to support the ferrochrome industry. This process may involve the sharing of competitively sensitive information, which presents difficulties from a competition law perspective, and engagement on these issues has not been forthcoming.

According to South African competition law, joint industry engagement of this nature may give rise to anti-competitive conduct by facilitating collusion or adversely affecting competition in the market. Accordingly, in December 2020, key industry players applied to the Competition Commission for an exemption from certain provisions of the Competition Act. If successful, the exemption would permit stakeholders to jointly explore needed solutions in the industry for a period of two years.

While there is currently no further information on whether government will eventually impose export limitations and restrictions, the South African Revenue Service is expected to become aggressive in monitoring compliance and the collection of these export taxes when they do take effect. South African chrome ore producers who intend on exporting chrome should begin preparing, so that they can be tax compliant and in possession of the relevant customs licenses if new export taxes eventually become effective

Written By: Prenisha Govender, Associate, Tax, and Angelo Tzarevski, Senior Associate, Competition & Antitrust, Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

 

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Hospitality & Tourism

Radisson Individuals makes its African debut with hotel signing in Ghana, to open its doors in October 2021

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Image Source: Radisson Hotel Group

Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce its first Radisson Individuals property in Africa, with the signing of Earl Heights Suites Hotel, a member of Radisson Individuals, Accra, Ghana. Due to open by the end of 2021, this new addition places the Group firmly on track to achieving its objective of reaching 150 hotels in operation and under development by 2025.

Located in Dzorwulu, the property is currently undergoing a full renovation and is on schedule to open within this year. Just 5km from Kotoka International Airport (KIA), the main access point by air for domestic and international visitors, the serviced apartment property is conveniently located near shopping malls, restaurants, as well as the University of Ghana, situated north of the district. Also within reach, is the tranquil Legon Botanical Gardens, with its canopy walk, rope courses, canoeing and rich birdlife.

Due to its strategic geographical location, ease of access, and aviation facilities and connections, Accra has become a conference and aviation hub for West Africa. It is also dominated by local and international business activities, making the city one of the most attractive African cities to do business.

The 58-serviced apartments property will comprise of modern studios as well as spacious and elegant one- and two-bedroom suites. Creating a true destination for its guests, the property will offer culinary options in the restaurant, The Society, which will include outdoor seating as well as in the hotel bar. The property will also feature a spa, gym, pool, convenience store, and business centre, providing the perfect base for both business and leisure.

Radisson Individuals is a conversion brand that offers independent hotels and local, regional chains the opportunity to be part of the global Radisson Hotel Group platform, benefit from the Group’s international awareness and experience, with the freedom to maintain their own uniqueness and identity.  Radisson Hotel Group plans to more than double its serviced apartments portfolio within the next 5 years across EMEA. Today, serviced apartments represent around 10% of the Group’s EMEA portfolio with 45 properties and more than 5,400 units in operation and under development.

Erwan Garnier, Senior Director, Development, Africa, Radisson Hotel Group, said: “We have identified Ghana as a key focus country in our five-year development plan and, Accra as a focus and primary city. The signing of the property, which compliments the Radisson Hotel & Apartments Accra announced last year and scheduled to open in 2023, is also aligned with our current conversion-focused growth strategy, which will remain a priority, especially post-pandemic. We are therefore proud the Radisson Individuals African debut, will be on Ghanaian soil, carving the path for the new brand to continue its expansion across the continent. In proud partnership with Earlbeam Group of Companies, we are thrilled to be contributing to the country’s tourism industry, a key pillar of the national economy.”

Alfred Danso Darkwah, CEO of the hotel’s owning company, Earlbeam Group of Companies, said: “The Earl Heights Suites Hotel partnership is an exciting opportunity – it brings together the union of Radisson Hotel Group and The Earlbeam Group Of Companies, two well-seasoned brands from the hospitality and real estate sector respectively. This will be the first branded apart hotel in Ghana, completely unique, providing each guest a boutique home-away-from home experience. In addition, it delivers partner confidence, guarantee of service standards, and assured safety and security, leaving a positive mark on Ghana’s hospitality sector. We believe this Radisson Individuals hotel will inject much-needed life within the local hospitality industry and pave the way for upcoming projects between Radisson Hotel Group and The Earlbeam Group of Companies.”

Image Source: Radisson Hotel Group

Herewith the link to the renders of the hotel, which is on track to open its doors in October this year Radisson Individuals

Radisson Hotel Group operates to high standards of performance and advocates socially and environmentally sustainable business practices. More than ever, Radisson Hotel Group’s highest priorities remain the health and safety of its guests and employees. The Group partnered with SGS, the world’s leading inspection and certification company, to implement the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, which ensures the highest hygiene standards and strengthens the Group’s existing rigorous sanitation guidelines. In the run-up to the opening of Earl Heights Suites Hotel, a member of Radisson Individuals the hotel will implement the Radisson Hotel Group brand standards including the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol related to safety and security.

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Entertainment

TuneCore Launches Operations in Africa, Appoints Two Female Regional Executives

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TuneCore Jade Leaf and Chioma Onuchukwu

TuneCore, the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration company for independent artists, has launched operations in Africa. Jade Leaf has been hired as Head of TuneCore for Southern Africa and will share responsibility for key countries in East Africa with Chioma Onuchukwu, who has been hired as Head of TuneCore for West Africa. Both Leaf and Onuchukwu will report to Faryal Khan-Thompson, Vice President, International, TuneCore.

Onuchukwu will be based in Nigeria and oversee countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. She will also look after Tanzania and Ethiopia in East Africa.  Leaf’s territory encompasses Southern Africa, including South Africa, where she will be based, as well as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Lesotho. Leaf will also manage TuneCore operations in East African countries Kenya and Uganda.

Said Onuchukwu, “I am elated to be joining a renowned, independent music distribution powerhouse, especially in an incredible era for music creators in Africa at a time when we are gaining global recognition and increasing momentum. I look forward to collaborating with and supporting local artists.”

Before joining TuneCore, Onuchukwu was Marketing Manager at uduX Music, a music streaming platform in Nigeria. There she worked directly with popular African artists such as Davido, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, Kizz Daniel and more.

Commented Leaf, “I am incredibly excited to join the team in a time where the global conversation is around independence and ownership. TuneCore opens up a world of potential for independent artists at every level of their careers. Africa is home to a diverse range of artists who are seeking a reliable distribution service who understands their local needs and can ultimately give them the opportunity to turn their art into commercial success.”

Previously, Leaf worked at Africa’s largest Pay TV operator, Multichoice as the Marketing Manager for Youth & Music Channels, where she led brand re-imaging and marketing efforts for Music TV giant Channel O. Before that, she worked at Sony Music Entertainment Africa, focusing on African artists and content, as well as numerous marketing campaigns & projects for local and international artists.

There has been a meteoric rise in the uptake of streaming services in Africa, the growth has been attributed to several factors such as an increase in internet penetration via smartphones, the entrance of international and local streaming platforms in key territories and its youth population – More than 60% of African’s are under the age of 25.

In 2020, TuneCore saw an increase in music releases globally, with many African artists opting to use the DIY Distributor – DJ Spinall and Small Doctor in Nigeria, Spoegwolf in South Africa, Mpho Sebina in Botswana and Fena Gitu in Kenya to name a few.

Stated Khan-Thompson, “Africa is an extremely exciting music market with a lot of potential for growth. By hiring Jade and Chioma to lead our efforts, TuneCore is well positioned to maximize opportunities for independent artists across the continent. Both Chioma and Jade bring a wealth of experience and genuine interest in helping artists make their dreams come true. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have two incredible women representing the TuneCore brand in the continent”

TuneCore

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