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Dangote Cement Eye Expansion to South Africa

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Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, is among those considering counteroffers for PPC Group Ltd. that could signal a bidding contest for South Africa’s largest cement maker, according to people familiar with the matter.

Dangote Cement Plc sees a bid for the Johannesburg-based company as a way to accelerate expansion outside of Nigeria, said the people, who asked not to be named as the matter is private. PPC will consider any rival offers to the joint approach by Canada’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and domestic rival AfriSam Group Pty Ltd. and present them to shareholders in early October, one of the people said.

PPC shares jumped 2.9 percent to 6.38 rand as of 3:30 p.m. in Johannesburg, on track for the highest on a closing basis since April 25. That values the company at 10.2 billion rand ($792 million).

LafargeHolcim Ltd., the world’s biggest cement maker based in Jona, Switzerland, and Germany’s HeidelbergCement AG are also monitoring PPC’s situation, the people said. Titan Cement Co. SA of Greece is looking at the South African company, according to one of the people. The cement makers’ interest was sparked after Toronto-based Fairfax offered to buy 2 billion rand of PPC’s shares and support a merger with AfriSam earlier this week, the people said. The proposal “significantly undervalued” the business, PPC said at the time.

Spokespeople for Dangote, LafargeHolcim, HeidelbergCement, Titan, Fairfax and PPC declined to comment.

The future ownership of PPC is up for grabs after merger talks with AfriSam failed for a second time last month following two-and-a-half years of on-off negotiations. Both companies have been struggling with high debt levels, which Fairfax offered to resolve with its unexpected entrance to the saga this week. The Toronto-based company said it would recapitalize AfriSam, enabling it to settle outstanding loans, and buy 2 billion rand worth of PPC shares at 5.75 rand each.

PPC’s current share price of 6.38 rand suggests investors expect a higher offer to emerge.

The Fairfax proposal would give the Canadian company a stake of more than 30 percent stake in the combined entity, said two of the people. The value of the bid would rise when savings generated by sharing PPC and AfriSam infrastructure are taken into account, they said. 

The Public Investment Corp., the biggest shareholder in both PPC and AfriSam, would prefer a higher cash component of more than 6 rand a share, the people said, adding that Fairfax hasn’t ruled out increasing its offer.

Aliko Dangote, who has interests in sugar, flour and packaged food businesses as well as cement, has a net worth of $11.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Dangote would be open to a sale of all or part of its cement operations in Pretoria-based Sephaku Holdings Ltd. unit to win regulatory approval for a takeover, two of the people said.

Separately, PPC said it had reduced capital expenditure targets for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The company sees spending of as much as 900 million rand in year through March 2018, rising to as much as 1 billion rand the following year, PPC said in a presentation to investors on Friday. The cement maker also said debt would probably fall in the current year.

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Apple Begin Sale of MekaMons Built by Adekunle, Nigerian Engineer

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Silas Adekunle with his 4-legged MekaMon robot

Apple stores in the US and UK have begun the sale of MekaMons, a gaming robot built by Silas Adekunle, a Nigerian-Briton.

 

Adekunle, an engineer, graduated with first class honours from the University of the West of England in Bristol, with a bachelor of science in robotics technology.

 

He was born in Nigeria but moved to the UK when he was 11 years old.

 

His company, Reach Robotics, an augmented reality gaming company which creates robots for both fun and STEM education, struck the deal with Apple recently.

 

MekaMons has been on sale since November 16 for $299.95.

 

The four-legged robots can be controlled via an iPhone and other smartphone using a companion app for augmented reality gameplay.

 

“We’ve created an entirely new video gaming platform,” Adekunle said in a statement by Black Enterprise.

 

The 4-legged MekaMon robot

 

“MekaMon straddles both the real and virtual worlds while taking the gaming experience beyond a player’s screen and turning their sitting room into a limitless robotic battle zone.

 

“MekaMon represents a quantum leap forward in the leveraging of augmented reality. Players can whip out their iPhone to battle their multi-functional, connected battlebots in the physical and virtual worlds at the same time.

 

“When I was a student at UWE Bristol I spent some time going into schools to help inspire young people and it struck me that there was a huge untapped market for a consumer robot with a difference.

 

“We used to go in and explain simple robotics to try to inspire the young roboticists and engineers of the future and this experience set me off thinking about designing gaming robots.

 

“This is an exciting time for our company as now after years of development work we are finally able to bring Mekamon to customers across the UK and US and with plans to go global.

 

“UWE Bristol has given us an amazing start and we are so grateful for their support.”

 

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iSON Group Sparkles at 2017 SERAS Awards

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L-r) iSON BPO Team - Adebayo Bakare DGM – HR , Sujeet Matwankar – Head- Human Resource

iSON Group has bagged two awards at the 2017 Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards (SERAs) for Best Company in Poverty Eradication and Best New Entrant in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The award ceremony was held at the Shell Hall, Onikan, Lagos.

These awards were presented to iSON Group in recognition of its robust CSR philosophy, and its progress in eradicating poverty in Africa as it drives sustainable development across the communities beyond the bands of its operation.

The SERAS–CSR Awards is an annual event to celebrate organisations investing resources in the improvement of lives of stakeholders and through their social performance and investment programmes contributing to the development of Africa. This is the first edition to recognise individuals and organisations outside Nigeria.

Accepting the awards on behalf of Mr. Ramesh Awtaney, the Founder and Chairman, iSON Group, were Sujeet Matwankar Head of Human Resources, iSON BPO and Bakare Adebayo, Deputy General Manager – HR, iSON BPO and Ms. Olapeju Allison, Manager –HR, iSON Technologies and Mr. Henry Erigha Deputy Sales Director, iSON Technologies.  They expressed satisfaction for being part of a system that addresses the very essence of human existence. Sujeet Matwankar said, ‘’These recognitions on Responsibility awarded to iSON Group demonstrates the progress made by the organization in leading Africa’s IT and ITeS industry towards sustainable investments in human capital development whilst driving communities to achieve the global sustainable development goals’’.

As part of its CSR initiatives iSON is on a mission to build capacities focused on specialized training in IT-enabled services for the youth. Its “Welfare through Empowerment” program, in partnership with the local business communities, enables growth in IT and ITeS for the African youth. Its corporate social responsibility initiatives are directed at empowering the underprivileged and the youth.

According to media officer of The SERAS, Mr. Michael Ogunbanwo, “We are indeed delighted at the quality of participation thus far. Noteworthy for us is the fact that we have so many first time entrants for The SERAS this year. For us, this clearly is an indicator of the wide acceptability of the worksTruContact CSR Nigeria- initiators of the awards, in promoting and standardizing corporate social responsibility and sustainability in Nigeria and Africa’’.

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FG Inaugurates ICT Centres in Katsina State

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Federal Ministry of Communication established three Information and Communication Technology Centres (ICTC) in Daura, Katsina State, to promote the quest for improved information and technological education, Mr Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communication, said.

The minister made this known yesterday during a visit to the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouk.

Shittu said the three centres were located at the state’s College of Legal Studies, Government Junior Secondary School Daura and Federal Government College Daura.

He added that the centres were to assist in promoting ICT education among students in the area, as well as ensure wider coverage for the nation.

The minister called on the people to make optimal good use of the centres.

He said he was in Katsina for a stakeholders meeting on how to enhance information and communication technology for national development.

He noted that “the centres are equipped with ICT gadgets like computers, internet services and other accessories.

“The world has witnessed a paradigm shift from analogue status to digital one, hence the need for us to embrace the trend.’’

The minister reiterated Federal Government’s determination to change the nation from analogue to digital ways of doing things.

Shittu commended the emir “for the sustained contributions on nation building, especially on peace and regular prayers for the wellbeing of the nation.’’

Responding, the emir commended the minister for establishing the centres in his domain.

He called on the ministry to consider the possibility of expanding the scope of the centres by establishing same in other areas like Zango, Maiadua, Baure and Sandamu.

He assured the minister of the emirate’s support to mobilise students to begin to use the centres for ICT programmes.

The minister was in company of the 36 commissioners for information and other heads of federal parastatals, agencies and commissions.

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