Saudi miner sees growth in African fertilizer

Riyadh-based Ma’aden, which focuses on gold, phosphates, aluminum and industrial minerals, has agreed to buy an 85 percent stake in Mauritius-based Meridian Group for SR525 million. (AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019

Saudi miner sees growth in African fertilizer

  • Meridian deal allows Ma’aden to distribute its fertilizers to key growth markets in sub-Saharan Africa more efficiently
  • Reflects a broader push among major Saudi commodities-based companies to diversify their revenue streams and move into higher-value growth sectors

LONDON: Saudi miner Ma’aden is investing in an African fertilizer company as it looks to diversify operations beyond the Kingdom.
The Riyadh-based group, which focuses on gold, phosphates, aluminum and industrial minerals, has agreed to buy an 85 percent stake in Mauritius-based Meridian Group for SR525 million ($140 million).
It plans to acquire the remaining 15 percent over the next four years.
The deal allows Ma’aden to distribute its fertilizers to key growth markets in sub-Saharan Africa more efficiently.
“Meridian distributes close to half a million tons of fertilizer across Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia,” said Ma’aden in a stock exchange statement on Thursday.
“The acquisition furthers Ma’aden’s 2025 strategy, which includes expanding operations and sales outside the Kingdom,” it added.
The deal reflects a broader push among major Saudi commodities-based companies to diversify their revenue streams and move into higher-value growth sectors.


Oil up on slowing pace of coronavirus, Venezuela sanctions

Updated 20 February 2020

Oil up on slowing pace of coronavirus, Venezuela sanctions

  • Financial analysts say epidemic is likely to deal a ‘short-term blow’ to global economy

LONDON: Benchmark Brent oil prices rose for a seventh consecutive day after demand worries eased with a slowing of new coronavirus cases in China and supply was curtailed by a US move to cut more Venezuelan crude from the market.

Brent was up 71 cents at $58.46 a barrel at 1510 GMT. The global benchmark has risen nearly 10 percent since falling last week to its lowest this year. US oil was up 53 cents at $52.58 a barrel.

“Those in doubt of the economic impact from the virus should take heed from Apple’s surprise sales warning ... Put simply, this is the surest sign yet of the coronavirus fallout on the global economy,” said PVM analysts in a note.

S&P Global Ratings said it expected coronavirus would deliver a “short-term blow” to economic growth in China in the first quarter, echoing findings by the International Energy Agency.

Official data showed new cases in China fell for a second straight day, although the World Health Organization said there was not enough data to know if the epidemic was being contained.

The oil market price structure is also showing signs that prompt demand for oil is picking up, as the front-month Brent futures market is moving deeper into backwardation, when near-term prices are higher than later-dated prices.

This week, oil prices were also buoyed by a US decision to blacklist a trading subsidiary of Russia’s Rosneft, which President Donald Trump’s administration said provided a financial lifeline to Venezuela’s government.

Hopes that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers would deepen supply cuts also supported prices.

The grouping, known as OPEC+, has been withholding supply to support prices and meets next month to decide a response to the downturn in demand resulting from the coronavirus epidemic.

But in the US, which is not party to any supply cut agreements, oil production has been rising. US shale production is expected to rise to a record 9.2 million barrels a day next month, the Energy Information Administration said.