Consumer finances

Abu dhabis mubadala seeking $2 bln loan refinancing sources


DUBAI Feb 11 Abu Dhabi state-owned investment fund Mubadala is talking to banks to raise a loan worth up to $2 billion, which it plans to close in the first half of the year, banking sources aware of the matter told Reuters on Thursday. The company is in talks with local and international lenders regarding the financing, two of the sources said, adding that Mubadala was discussing whether to borrow the cash over three or five years or split the financing between both.

The funding will be used to roll over a three-year revolving credit facility, two sources said, which had been in place since 2007, according to one of the sources.

The fund has a $2 billion facility due to mature in May which was provided by 19 banks and pays a margin of 75 basis points over the London interbank offered rate (Libor), according to Thomson Reuters data.

Mubadala, which owns stakes in global companies such as chipmaker GlobalFoundries and U.S. private equity firm Carlyle, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Africa money angolans build stakes in lisbon to profit in luanda


Nov 29 For most investors, buying distressed bank stocks in a recession-hit Euro zone economy may sound like a bad idea. Angolan investors in Portugal's banks certainly do not think so, having built up hefty stakes in lenders that are also key players back at home in Luanda - where the booming banking sector is quickly luring international competition. Portugal's banks may not look too appealing as they desperately seek capital in a bailed-out country, but their units in former colony Angola have made them attractive to high-profile investors from Africa's second-biggest oil producer. Armed with capital from an economic boom, Angolan state oil firm Sonangol last month raised its stake in Millennium BCP to 15.08 percent, confirming its status as the top stakeholder in Portugal's largest listed bank by assets. In July, Isabel dos Santos - daughter of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Africa's second-richest woman, according to Forbes magazine - doubled her share in Banco BPI, another top-three Portuguese bank, to nearly 20 percent. Part of the rationale is to invest profits from an economy that is set to grow 8 percent in 2012, with oil output expected to keep expansion strong in the next few years."Because Angola has capital, it makes sense to invest overseas, but it is unusual, as not that many African countries invest in European companies," said Victor Lopes, economist for Sub-Saharan Africa at Standard Chartered. INFLUENCE AT BARGAIN PRICES

Rock-bottom prices in Portugal's stock market add to the rationale. Banking shares have trading near historic lows this year, pressured by a liquidity squeeze and austerity under the country's 78-billion-euro ($101 billion)international bailout. Linguistic and cultural ties, still strong nearly four decades after Angola's independence, also help. But the underlying logic is to gain exposure to the units built by the Portuguese banks over the last decade in Angola's high-potential banking market."The sector continues to show innumerable opportunities for growth, shown by a banking penetration level with just 22 percent of Angolans holding bank accounts," global auditing firm KPMG said in a study published this week. The study showed that total assets in the sector grew over 20 percent in 2011, with deposits jumping by more than a third and loans to clients rising 23 percent.

BPI's Angolan unit, BFA, is among the five banks that control around 80 percent of the market, while Millennium Angola is slightly smaller but also posting strong growth."For Angolan investors it is clearly interesting to have stakes in Portuguese companies that are heavily involved in Angola," Standard Chartered's Lopes said. "It gives them a say, influence in sectors at home - that is a key factor."The increase in influence was seen when Sonangol oversaw a management change at BCP in January. Manuel Vicente, then Sonangol CEO and now Angola's vice-president, said the new cycle would "add value to the Angolan and Portuguese companies". The Angolan government has forced overseas banks to sell up to 49 percent of their units to local partners, paving the way for Sonangol and Isabel dos Santos to buy large minority stakes in Millennium Angola and BFA in a country which does not yet have a stock market.

With the Angolan financial sector so promising, further competition from abroad is rising, with Africa's largest lender, Standard Bank, implementing a rapid expansion plan and several foreign players waiting for licences. FULL SHOPPING CART - OIL, TV, SUPERMARKETS The Angolan investors' strategy is not restricted to banks. Sonangol has long expressed its desire to transform its indirect stake in Portuguese oil and gas firm Galp, which has stakes in Angolan oil blocks, into a direct holding. It is widely expected to reach this goal as Italy's Eni sells down its stake. Isabel dos Santos was on Tuesday appointed to the board of Zon Multimedia, Portugal's leading cable TV provider, in which she has built a stake of 28.8 percent. The operator's Angolan venture, ZAP, launched three years ago, has signed 400,000 subscribers to provide tough competition to South Africa's Multi-Choice network. Analysts at Barclays said ZAP could reach a million customers in three years. Dos Santos has also partnered with Portuguese conglomerate Sonae to open five hypermarkets in Luanda. With Angola's growth seen leading to the creation of a middle class, food retail is another hot prospect, attracting investment from Africa's biggest grocer, Shoprite."As Angola is opening its economy to foreign investment, our bigger companies and investors have turned abroad because this can give know-how in key sectors," said a senior source in the financial sector, who asked not to be named. "They have to invest overseas to be stronger back at home."

Australia business conditions jump most on record survey


SYDNEY Nov 11 A measure of Australian business conditions boasted the biggest increase on record in October as firms reported stronger sales, profits and employment, a possible sign the economy was gaining momentum into the last quarter of the year. National Australia Bank's survey of more than 400 firms showed its index of business conditions surged to +13 in October, from just +1 in September. This was the largest monthly gain since the survey began in 1998 and took the index to its highest since early 2008. Oddly, however, the survey's measure of business confidence actually dipped a point in the month to stand at +4, perhaps because firms were uncertain whether the better times would be sustained. Still, the improvement in conditions was broad based across the survey's measures of activity and by industry.

Its index of sales surged 13 points in October to +20, while profitability climbed 14 points to +15 and employment 7 points to +2.

The measure of forward orders also picked up to +4 led by a sharp rise in construction, a positive sign for future growth. All industries bar wholesale reported stronger orders for the month. Businesses also reported a firmer outlook for capital spending with that index rising 4 points to +9, well above its long-run average of +5.

That would be pleasing to the Reserve Bank of Australia

Business calls for trump, world leaders to support paris climate pact


More than 360 businesses and investors called on U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and world leaders on Wednesday to continue to support agreed curbs on global warming and to speed up efforts to move to a low-carbon economy. In a statement addressed to Trump, U.S. President Barack Obama, members of the U.S. Congress and global leaders, the group, called 360+, reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change. The 360+ group includes companies such as DuPont, Gap(GPS. N) , General Mills(GIS. N) , Hewlett Packard(HPE. N) , Hilton(HLT. N) , Kellogg (K. N), Levi Strauss & Co., L'Oreal USA, Nike(NKE. N) , Mars Incorporated, Schneider Electric, Starbucks (SBUX. O) and Unilever(ULVR. L) . The Paris Agreement, aiming to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions this century, came into force on Nov. 4 and now has backing from 110 nations including the United States.

The Nov. 7-18 meeting in Marrakesh is where U. N. officials and government representatives are trying to work out the details of the pact. However, Trump's victory in the U.S. election last week has overshadowed the event. Trump has threatened to tear up the U.S. commitment to the accord.

The 360+ group called on U.S. leaders to continue to participate in the Paris Agreement, support the continuation of U.S. commitments on climate change and continue to invest in low-carbon solutions at home and abroad. "Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk. But the right action now will create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness," the group said, in the statement presented at U. N. climate talks being held this week in Marrakesh, Morocco.

"Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement will enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy prosperity to all," the group added.