TheBigPond - spotlight on what South African business and business people have been up to in Europe. Edited by South African journalist Christo Volschenk from Stuttgart, Germany. Note: This blog has migrated to a new home at www.thebigpond.eu.
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IAM walks away with UK award

Frank Doyle, head of UK institutional sales at Investec Asset Management, was voted Marketer of the Year at this year's Financial News Awards for excellence in client service.

According to Financial News Online (www.efinancialnews.com), it was one of 11 awards handed out at a ceremony in London on 6 July.

The asset manager BlackRock, one of the biggest in the world, was the star performer of the evening. It bagged four of the 11 awards, namely for best brand development, best consultant relations, best product development and the award for client service team of the year.

For the annual Financial News Awards candidates are judged by a panel of independent judges comprising pension scheme trustees and managers and investment consultants.
9.7.08 12:12


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Sasol's turn to be in wrong place at wrong time?

Talking about "unfortunate involvements" and business deals with the "wrong kinda guys" (eg. Naspers and Anglo with Mugabe's Zim), here is something I would call "very unfortunate". It's the joint venture between Sasol and the Iranian government for a polymer plant in Iran.

I wonder how long before pressure starts mounting for Sasol to get out.

Here is the full description of the project (now completed). I found it on the Engineering News website:

Name of the project and location:
Arya Sasol Polymer project, Iran.

Project description:

The project will involve the construction of an ethane cracker for producing one-million tons of polymer-grade ethylene a year, as well the construction of polyethylene plants in Iran.

Value:
$987 million.

Duration:
The project is expected to be completed in phases between October 2006 and January 2007.

The cracker portion is scheduled for start-up at the end of the first quarter of calendar 2007, with the high-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene polymer plants only likely to come on stream towards the end of the first half of 2007.

Arya Sasol Polymer Company is a 50:50 joint venture between Sasol and the Iranian state-owned petrochemicals company, Pars Petrochemicals Company.

Latest developments:
The project has suffered a delay as a result of an overload on the engineering and construction industries and delays in the utility supply to the site.

End of extract.
9.7.08 17:52


SA considers new nuclear power station

Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) had an interesting titbit this morning. It came from Reuters and would, therefore, have been picked up by the media in South Africa. I repeat it here anyway - it's such a gem.

It seems the SA government is considering a new nuclear plant to help it out of its electricity supply dilemma.

Here a translation of (part of) the Reuters article which brings one to this conclusion:

EDF plans ten new pressurised-water reactors

The French electricity supplier Electricite de France (EDF) wants to extend its leading role in the production of energy from nuclear processes.

According to Reuters, EDF said in a presentation it wants to build at least ten pressurised-water nuclear reactors* between now and 2020.

The state-owned firm EDF wants to be a major actor in the "global renaissance of nuclear energy". It plans to build at least four reactors in the USA, two in China, up to four in the UK and possibly one nuclear power station in South Africa, EDF said.

EDF holds 45% of the shares in EnBW, Germany's third biggest energy supplier, and operates 58 nuclear reactors around the world.

End of extract.

I suspect EDF was (or is) also involved in Koeberg.

* Wikipedia says a pressurised-water reactor is a type of reactor using water as cooling medium (as does Koeberg), which means the SA government must be considering another nuclear plant somewhere along SA's coast.
10.7.08 09:21


German industry against Billiton/Rio merger

BHP Billiton, the international mining giant with South African (among others) roots, received the green light for its desired take-over of mining giant Rio Tinto from the US authorities, but still awaits a decision by the EU anti-trust authorities.

Yesterday the proposed deal got headwind from an unexpected direction: German industry.

This article by AFP comes from the website afp.google.com:

German industry urges EU to reject BHP/Rio merger

FRANKFURT (AFP) — German industry urged the European Commission Wednesday to reject a tie-up of mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto and warned that steelmakers were curbing competition in the European market.

Seven industrial federations sent a letter to the Commission calling for more competition in the markets for iron ore and coke needed to produce steel, saying a combination of the Australian and Anglo-US mining groups would undermine such a development.

"We call therefore on the European Commission not to approve a fusion between the BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto companies," said the letter sent by federations representing the auto, machine tool, electronic, shipbuilding, construction, metal and public works sectors.

On Friday, Europe's top anti-trust watchdog opened an in-depth anti-trust probe into BHP's hostile takeover of Rio Tinto owing to concern the deal could stifle competition amid soaring commodities prices.

But the German federations also said European steelmakers kept prices at artificially high levels and prevented competition as well.

Attempts by European groups to increase prices on flat steel products "are not justified," the letter said, criticising "sustained weak competition on European steel markets."

"The trend in steel prices is cause for concern" and presented "incalculable risks for German industry," it added.
10.7.08 12:37


Firstrand/Anglogold withdraw from uranium market

I never knew a big SA banking group was involved in international uranium marketing.

But, that's irrelevant now, since it recently got out of the business. Firstrand and Anglogold sold their London-based uranium marketing company Nufcor a week or two ago to an American electricity supplier.

Here's the story, lifted from the website BaltimoreExaminer.com:

BALTIMORE, June 30 -- Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) today announced its subsidiary, Constellation Energy Commodities Group Limited, acquired 100 percent of the shares of Nufcor International Limited (Nufcor) from AngloGold Ashanti Limited and FirstRand International Limited.

Nufcor is a leading uranium market participant active across the nuclear fuel chain. Its producer services business has entered into a number of off-take arrangements and marketing service agreements with uranium producers.

Capitalizing on its strong presence in the physical uranium market, Nufcor will be actively exploring new risk management offerings to the increasingly sophisticated financial uranium buyers in North America, Europe and Asia-markets where Constellation Energy already has a strong commodities presence.

"The acquisition of Nufcor is a natural extension of Constellation Energy's expanding global commodities business and will broaden the company's world-class risk management capabilities across new fuel markets," said

Thomas V. Brooks, executive vice president, Constellation Energy.

Nufcor, through its subsidiary, Nufcor Capital Limited, will continue to act as the uranium market advisor to Nufcor Uranium Limited (LSE: NU.L). The closed-ended uranium investment company listed on the LSE is exploring a secondary listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange later this year.

The Nufcor team will continue to operate out of London, moving to Constellation Energy's Aldwych offices in early July.

end of article

About the buyer (this info also from the website BaltimoreExaminer.com):

Constellation Energy is a FORTUNE 125 company with 2007 revenues of $21 billion. It's the US's largest competitive supplier of electricity to large commercial and industrial customers and the nation's largest wholesale power seller. Constellation Energy also manages fuels and energy services on behalf of energy intensive industries and utilities.
10.7.08 13:05


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