A takeover bid of the struggling German lighting manufacturer Osram by an Austrian company on Friday failed.
AMS, a producer of sensors, said it failed in its goal to achieve the minimum acceptance threshold of 62.5 percent of Osram’s shares.
Only the owners of 51.6 percent of the shares of Munich-based Osram took the offer of 41 euros (or 45 dollars) per share.
The company said it would continue to pursue Osram, adding that merger would enable the creation of a globally leading company in sensor technology and photonics.
Meanwhile, Osram’s board of directors and supervisory board had supported AMS’s takeover bid, but with so many reservations that it was seen as a hidden “no. “
The IG Metall union was already strongly opposed to a takeover by AMS because the union feared Osram would be dismantled.
The bidding battle, which lasted several weeks, was started by two U.S financial investors, who however, only offered 35 euros per share and therefore, had no chance.
Osram will remain independent for the time being. AMS now the largest shareholder with just under 20 percent of the shares.
The Australian blogging couple, Jolie King and Mark Firkin, who were just released from detention in Iran.
Australian travel bloggers, Jolie King and Mark Firkin, held in detention in Iran since July, have been released and all charges against them, dropped.
Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, told reporters on Saturday that the couple is in good health, good spirits and have been reunited with their families to fly home.
The couple set out from Perth in 2017 to drive from Australia to the UK, documenting their adventures on social media and frequently using a drone to film their travels.
The couple were arrested in July after taking photos of military facilities with a drone without a permit in Tehran province, Iranian officials said.
They had since been held in the notorious Evin prison, north of Tehran.
“The ordeal the couple have been through is now over, they are being reunited with their loved ones,’’ Payne said.
King is a joint Australian-British citizen and has lived with Firkin for several years in Australia.
Both Australia and Britain had urged Iran to release the couple.
Another Australian, university lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert, is still behind bars in Evin Prison where she was sentenced 12 months ago to 10 years jail for spying.
Payne said Moore-Gilbert’s case was “very complex” as the precise charges were unclear.
“We are continuing our discussions with the Iranian government.
“We don’t accept the charges upon which she was convicted and we will seek to have her returned to Australia,’’ she said.
Amid his impeachment probe, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Friday night requiring many future immigrant visa applicants to show they can afford health care, a move that could make it harder for poor migrants to enter the U.S.
The action, which is set to take effect from 3 November, would require applicants, including people with ties to family members in the U.S., to show they have health insurance or prove their financial ability to pay for medical care before being issued a visa that could lead to a green card.
The proclamation wouldn’t apply to noncitizen children of U.S. citizens. Refugees and immigrants who won asylum are also excluded from the new requirement.
The move marks the latest effort by President Trump to restrict immigrants’ ability to enter the U.S.
Trump has made cutting legal and illegal immigration a centrepiece of his presidency. The Trump administration said last month that it planned to allow only 18,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the 2020 fiscal year, the lowest number in the history of the modern refugee program.
“While our healthcare system grapples with the challenges caused by uncompensated care, the United States Government is making the problem worse by admitting thousands of aliens who have not demonstrated any ability to pay for their healthcare costs,” Trump said in the proclamation.
He said the suspension applied only to people seeking to enter the United States with an immigrant visa.
The document listed the types of insurance considered approved, such as employer-sponsored plans and the Medicare program for the elderly.
But it said for people over the age of 18, coverage under the Medicaid program for the poor is not approved.
The new requirement would take a further step, requiring anyone looking to move to the U.S. to enrol in private insurance — including as a dependent on a family member’s health plan — or possess the financial means to cover significant medical costs.
The proclamation also allows entry into the U.S. for migrants who have the “financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs, ” but it doesn’t define the threshold for meeting that standard.
Subsidised plans purchased on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges wouldn’t count as an eligible form of insurance under the White House’s new definition.
Low-income immigrants living in the country legally can’t use Medicaid for their first five years, but they can receive premium subsidies if their incomes are low enough. Under the new White House policy, purchasing health insurance using subsidies would disqualify people from living in the country legally.
In its proclamation, the White House said it was taking the additional step to safeguard the health-care system for American citizens by preventing immigrants from enrolling in Medicaid or going to emergency rooms with no insurance, requiring hospitals or taxpayers to cover the cost.
“President Trump has taken action to promote immigrant self-sufficiency, which has long been a fundamental aspect of our immigration system,” the proclamation said.
The new requirement will apply to potentially hundreds of thousands of people moving to the U.S. each year on immigrant visas, which allow people to become permanent residents. In the 2018 fiscal year, the U.S. issued a total of roughly 534,000 visas, a 4.6% decline from the previous year’s total, according to State Department data.
Some of those visas, like those granted to noncitizen children of U.S. citizens, won’t need to comply with the new requirement.
The U.S. issues about 1.1 million green cards a year, but people issued immigrant visas often wait years in backlogs before they are granted permanent resident status.
National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has revealed that the Insurance sector life annuity fund portfolio at the end of the second quarter of 2019 stood at about N323 billion.
The information was made available by Mr Rasaq Salami, Head, Commissioner for Insurance Directorate of the NAICOM in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Salami said that the figure represented a growth of 17.46 per cent compared to that of 2018 which was N 275 billion.
” Within the same period under focus, the cumulative total Retiree Life Annuity (RLA)
payouts stood above ₦122 billion as at end of the second quarter of 2019,” he said.
According to him, the RLA market has been in existence since the advent of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
Salami said the RLA portfolio has recorded 73,554 contracts purchased for a total premium of ₦342 billion as at end of the second quarter of 2019.
“This depicts 13.02 per cent and 6.21 per cent growth in count and volume, respectively, ” he said.
The NAICOM spokesman said that the growth during the last three years for RLA business averaged 34.28 per cent and 35.12 per cent in count and volume respectively.
He noted that the RLA fund portfolio growth averaged 27.46 per cent, notwithstanding the RLA cumulative total payments of N122 billion.
“The graph of the annuity payouts, premium receipts and portfolio fund balance depicts a clear representation as the difference between the cumulative premium amounts received and fund balance is small compared to the cumulative annuity payouts earlier stated.
“The above indicates growth in the RLA business and a positive future outlook for the business in Nigeria, ” he said.
RLA is an insurance product and one of the available retirement benefit options for retirees.
The product can be purchased from a Life Insurance Company licensed by the NAICOM and authorised to sell RLA under the regulation of retiree life annuity.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said on Saturday that its onslaught against remnants of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) Terrorists (BHTs) has again yielded significant results with the destruction of ISWAP hideout at Kirta Wulgo on the fringes of Lake Chad in Borno State.
A statement by Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director NAF Public Relations and Information said the airstrike was conducted by the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole on Friday.
The strike followed Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions which revealed that the settlement was being used as a staging area from where the terrorists launched attacks against Nigerian troops’ positions.
Daramola said the ATF dispatched its aircraft to attack identified compounds within the settlement.
“Overhead the target area, scores of ISWAP fighters were observed attempting to flee upon sighting the attack platforms.
“The aircraft took turns in engaging the location, scoring accurate hits which led to the destruction of some structures as well as the killing of several terrorists.
“The NAF, operating in concert with surface forces, will sustain its efforts to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the Northeast”.
Over the past 10 years mobile-based lending has grown in Kenya. Some estimates put the number of mobile lending platforms at 49. The industry is largely unregulated but includes major financial players. Banks such as Kenya Commercial Bank, Commercial Bank of Africa, Equity Bank and Coop Bank offer instant mobile loans.
These lending services have been made possible by the ballooning financial technology (fintech) industry.
Since the early 2000s, Kenya has been touted as a centre of technological innovation from which novel financial offerings have emerged. Mobile company Safaricom’s M-Pesa is a well-known example. It is no surprise, therefore, that technology and unregulated lending have developed together so strongly in Kenya.
The digital loan services appear to be bridging the gap for Kenyans who don’t have formal bank accounts, or whose incomes are not stable enough to borrow from formal financial institutions. These services have improved access to loans, but there are questions about whether the poor are being abused in the process.
Who borrows and why
A survey released earlier this year showed that formal financial inclusion – access to financial products and services – had increased from 27% of Kenya’s population in 2006 to 83%. M-Pesa was launched in 2007.
Mobile money services have benefited many people who would otherwise have remained unbanked. These include the poor, the youth, and women.
The next logical step was to make loans available. The first mobile loans were issued in 2012 by Safaricom through M-Pesa.
In 2017, the financial inclusion organisation Financial Sector Deepening Kenya reported that the majority of Kenyans access digital credit for business purposes such as investing and paying salaries, and to meet everyday household needs.
Some of their findings are illustrated in the figure below.
Unpacking the digital lending story
The implications of these findings are two-fold. Digital credit can help small enterprises to scale and to manage their daily cash flow. It can also help households cope with things like medical emergencies.
But, as the figure shows, 35% of borrowing is for consumption, including ordinary household needs, airtime and personal or household goods. These are not the business or emergency needs envisaged by many in the investment world as a use for digital credit.
Only 37% of borrowers reported using digital credit for business, and 7% used it for emergencies. Many in the development world thought this figure would be much higher.
Second, the speed and ease of access to credit through mobile applications has caused many borrowers to become heavily indebted. In Kenya, at least one out of every five borrowers struggles to repay their loan. This is double the rate of non-performing commercial loans in conventional banking.
The mobile-based lending business model depends on constantly inviting people to borrow. Potential borrowers receive unsolicited text messages and phone calls encouraging them to borrow at extraordinary rates. Some platforms even contact borrowers’ family and friends when seeking repayment.
It’s not always clear to customers what they will have to pay in fees and interest rates or what other terms they have agreed to. The model has been accused of making borrowers unknowingly surrender important parts of their personal data to third parties and waive their rights to dignity.
Concerns and remedies
There are concerns about how the business model may make people even more vulnerable.
The most prominent is the debt culture that has become a byproduct of mobile-based lending: borrowers fall into the trap of living on loans and accumulating bad debt.
So, what can be done to improve the system so that everyone benefits?
First, even though digital loans are low value, they may represent a significant share of the borrowers’ income. This means they will struggle to repay them. Overall, the use of high-cost, short-term credit primarily for consumption, coupled with penalties for late repayments and defaults, suggests that mobile-based lenders should take a more cautious approach to the development of digital credit markets.
Second, some digital lenders are not regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya. In general, digital credit providers are not defined as financial institutions under the current Banking Act, the Micro Finance Act or the Central Bank of Kenya Act.
Mobile lending platforms are offered by four main groups: prudential companies (such as banks, deposit-taking cooperatives and insurance providers), non-prudential entities, registered bodies and non-deposit-taking cooperatives as well as informal groups such as saving circles, employers, shop keepers and moneylenders.
Under current law, the Central Bank of Kenya regulates only the first two members of this list. So they should both be subject to the interest rate cap that was introduced in 2016. But some of the regulated financial institutions that also offer digital credit products have not complied with the interest rate cap, arguing that they charge a “facilitation fee”, and not interest on their digital credit products.
Third, and closely related to the point above, is the issue of disclosure. Borrowers often take loans without fully understanding the terms and conditions. Disclosures should include key terms and all conditions for the lending products, such as costs of the loan, transaction fees on failed loans, bundled products (services offered and charged for in tandem with the loan) and any other borrower responsibilities.
Fourth, with 49 digital lending platforms it is imperative that the lenders are monitored and evaluated for viability and compliance. Many mobile lending platforms are privately held (and some are foreign-owned) and are not subject to public disclosure laws.
Finally, changes to the current digital credit system across all the lending categories – prudential, non-prudential, registered and informal entities – are needed. An obvious failure of the system allows borrowers to seek funds from several platforms at the same time, creating a “borrow from Peter to pay Paul” scenario. At the same time the country’s Credit Reference Bureau has been faulted for occasionally basing its reports on incomplete data.
Credit reporting systems need to be stronger. They should get information from all sources of credit, including digital lenders, to improve the accuracy of credit assessments. Efforts to make the system work better should consider whether digital credit screening models are strong enough and whether rules are needed to ensure first-time borrowers are not unfairly listed. There could also be rules about reckless lending or suitability requirements for digital lenders.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ostensibly came to South Africa to boost business ties between the two countries. But he missed a golden opportunity to drum up business by skipping a forum with business leaders because he was worried about security.
President Cyril Ramaphosa attended the forum for several hours, addressing the business people and taking questions. Some of the business people who had been expecting Buhari were disappointed by his no-show, sources said.
He was billed to appear with Ramaphosa but his security people checked out the venue of the forum – the sprawling convention centre of Gallagher Estate in Midrand – and decided on the morning of the event that it was not secure enough for him to attend, according to diplomatic sources.
One said there were no hard feelings from the SA government side – who found Buhari warm and friendly – just a feeling that he had missed a good opportunity to boost commercial ties between the two countries.
These took a knock during the recent eruption of xenophobic violence in South Africa, some of it directed against Nigerians and their businesses. Nigerian mobs retaliated in Nigeria by attacking the premises of South African companies such as Shoprite and MTN.
Agreeing on measures to prevent a recurrence of this violence and building up the commercial relations between the two countries were the major focal points of Buhari’s state visit and the Binational Commission between the two countries which he and Ramaphosa co-chaired on Thursday.
Buhari’s anxiety about security appears to be related more to tensions within the Nigerian diaspora rather than any fear of attack by South Africans.
While he was meeting Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings on Thursday, Tshwane Metro Police reportedly used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a handful of Nigerians – calling themselves Biafran nationals – who were demonstrating in front of the building. Some carried placards calling Buhari an imposter and demanding that Ramaphosa send him home.
They claim the “real Buhari” died in 2017, when Buhari was very ill and spent most of the year receiving treatment in London.
Self-styled Biafrans are calling for a separate state in southern Nigeria, trying to revive the movement which lead to the secession of several states to form the Republic of Biafra in 1967 in a region mostly inhabited by Igbo people.
That prompted a long civil war in which between 500,000 and two million Biafran civilians died before Biafra surrendered to Nigeria.
Another grievance of some expatriate Nigerians is the arrest in August this year of Omoyele Sowore, a Nigerian journalist and human rights activist. He ran against Buhari in the February presidential elections and was arrested after rejecting the election as rigged and calling for a protest tagged RevolutionNow.
When Buhari addressed the Nigerian community at a Pretoria hotel on Friday, some of his compatriots refused entry to the meeting were calling for Sowore’s release.
Rather ironically, even some members of Buhari’s own ruling APC party could not gain entry, because they were considered too radical, they told journalists.
A few Nigerians who were allowed into the meeting said Buhari spoke to them for about 10 minutes.
“Let me also call on Nigerians to be law-abiding and respect constituted authorities while you live here,” Buhari said, according to remarks tweeted by his office.
“May I also enjoin the few that sometimes give us a bad name, to desist from such misdemeanours and be our good ambassadors.”
This echoed his reply at a joint press conference with Ramaphosa after their meeting on Thursday to a South African journalist who asked him if he did not think the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa against Nigerians, among other foreign Africans, was partly prompted by the perception that they were involved in so much crime.
He said Nigerians understood the maxim that, “When in Rome do as the Romans do” and therefore obeyed the laws of their host country.
At the Pretoria hotel meeting, Buhari also assured his compatriots that he and the South African government had agreed on measures to tackle the xenophobic violence to ensure it did not recur.
Ramaphosa had told a press conference after meeting Buhari that these measures included establishing an early warning mechanism to pick up any signals of imminent xenophobic violence so steps could be taken to pre-empt it. He and Buhari also said that police and intelligence agencies in both countries would cooperate with each other, share information and raise levels of alertness to forestall such violence.
According to official sources, the Nigerian government is also concerned that Nigerian citizens in South African jails are not prevented from using their cellphones. Many of them continue to mastermind criminal activities in Nigeria from their South African cells, the Nigerians complained.
The South African government promised to look into this. It is not clear if the Nigerian government was referring, among others, to Nigerian oil militant Henry Okah who is serving a 24-year jail sentence in a South African prison after the High Court convicted him in 2013 on 13 terrorism-related charges over twin car bombings in Nigeria during the country’s Independence Day celebrations in 2010.
Ironically, given Buhari’s no-show at the business forum, he and Ramaphosa “welcomed the important role of the Business Forum which took place on the margins of the State Visit,” in a joint communiqué after their Union Building meeting.
They also welcomed the decision of the two governments to establish a Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Industry, Trade and Investment which is expected to be critical in boosting private sector participation in the economies of both countries.
Ramaphosa said business and investment relations between the two countries were already strong and Nigeria accounted for 64% of SA’s trade with West Africa. The two governments had agreed to further strengthen economic ties by deepening their reforms to ensure their economies were more open to business and encouraging more Nigerian investment in SA.
He and Buhari noted the “significant footprint” of SA companies in Nigeria in sectors such as telecommunications, mining, aviation, banking and finance, retail, property, entertainment and fast foods.
By contrast, they also welcomed Nigerian business in SA but noted that it was mostly “small, micro or medium sized – with the exception of the big investment of Dangote Sephaku Cement.
At the press conference after their meeting, Ramaphosa said he would like to see a better balance in the investment relationship and would seek to achieve this by improving the environment for big Nigerian companies to invest here.
“We want to welcome more and more Nigerian businesses to operate in our space,” Ramaphosa said.
He added growing relations between the two countries were evidenced by the 32 cooperation agreements signed between them, covering a wide field including trade and industry, science and technology, defence, agriculture, energy, transport, arts and culture and tourism.
The two governments identified key sectors to boost investment for economic growth and development, including roads, railways, mining, manufacturing and agro-processing.
Credit: Daily Maverick