Breakingviews

Current account is key Africa factor in 2015

January 2, 2015

Rapid African growth is likely to continue. But too much spending and borrowing has led many countries into trade deficits. As lenders become more discriminating, the state of the balance of payments, along with freedom from Ebola, will become keys to continued growth.

SABMiller’s Coca-Cola push is Africa buy signal

November 27, 2014

The UK brewer and the U.S. drinks giant are merging assets in southern and eastern Africa to create a soft-drinks bottler with $3 bln of sales. SAB gets control and gains market access. The move points to the continent’s strategic potential, and similar consolidation could follow.

Review: Congo’s problems run deeper than oil

November 21, 2014

Virunga Park sits on top of reserves and between hostile states inhabited by warring militias. A new documentary casts UK oil firm Soco as the park’s top threat. Unethical exploiters are just one symptom of a nation whose institutions are too weak to assure economic stability.

Ebola shows dangers, and power, of globalisation

By Edward Hadas
October 10, 2014

The spread of the deadly disease is a symptom of an interconnected yet hugely unequal global economy. At least there is enough solidarity, and enough at stake for the rich world, for belated help to reach the poor countries at the centre of the outbreak.

Ebola sets clock ticking on West African economy

October 1, 2014

Growth may yet survive the deadly epidemic. The last four years’ 28 pct pace isn’t realistic, but controlling the outbreak soon should at least preserve investment. That won’t be easy, given the virus has now spread to the U.S. In saving lives and the economy, every day counts.

Fear is key to Ebola’s economic contagion

August 18, 2014

The virus ravaging parts of Africa has yet to spread elsewhere. Yet Asia’s SARS crisis in 2003 showed how changes to behaviour can hurt growth and productivity more than an actual disease. Ebola seems harder to catch, but more deadly. That could make for a more pronounced effect.

Woolworths pays too-steep ransom in Aussie battle

June 24, 2014

The South African group is buying billionaire Solomon Lew’s stake in an Australian unit in return for his support in its $2 bln takeover of retailer David Jones. The $201 mln side deal lifts the effective takeover premium – raising the pressure on Woolworths to realise synergies.

Review: China gives Africa handy investment lesson

June 6, 2014

Howard French’s new book paints an unflattering picture of the PRC’s heavy involvement in Africa. But China’s presence is not all bad. At a minimum, it gives African governments and businesses a benchmark for other offers now that the continent is attracting Western interest too.

Review: Hustling helps Africa’s partial success

April 17, 2014

Dayo Olopade’s “The Bright Continent” describes “kanju,” the hustling, striving and rule-breaking that make modern Africa work. The canny invisible hand can outwit the dead hand of corrupt bureaucracy. Sadly kanju makes the continent a tough place to do fully organized business.

ICBC takes slow-burn approach to global expansion

January 30, 2014

The Chinese lender is buying 60 pct of Standard Bank’s UK trading business. Negotiations took over a year, and ICBC has over a decade to take full control. Slow decision making can mean missed opportunities, but caution may protect China’s banks from high-profile own goals.