BUSINESS

The loneliest plant on earth

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WOOD’S CYCAD is a striking plant, tall with a shaggy green crown and bright orange cones. But despite its good looks, it will never find a mate. “The loneliest plant in the world, right here,” a guide tells a golf cart full of visitors touring the Durban Botanic Gardens. Found in a Zululand forest in 1895, it is the only cycad of its kind, and a male. Without a female it will never reproduce sexually, though offshoots have been used to make clones of it. The sense of its isolation is magnified by the security cameras trained on the plant to thwart thieves. Cycads, which resemble spiky palm trees and bear pineapple-shaped seed cones, trace their lineage to the time of the dinosaurs. But some species might not be around much longer. They are the world’s most threatened plant group, accord

John Magufuli is bulldozing the opposition and wrecking the economy

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CRITICALLY ill in a hospital in Nairobi, Tundu Lissu, the chief whip of Tanzania’s main opposition party, Chadema, is a lesson to those who would criticise the Tanzanian president, John Magufuli (pictured). On September 7th Mr Lissu was gunned down in broad daylight near his house in the sleepy administrative capital, Dodoma, after returning from a session in parliament. The attempted assassination came just two weeks after he was arrested—for the sixth time—for such things as insulting the president. It is not clear who was behind the attack. A month later, the government has yet to make any arrests. Mr Lissu had previously complained about being followed, and said he worried he might be killed. “This cowardly attack on one of Tanzania’s most fearless and prominent politicians raises c

The boycott of Qatar is hurting its enforcers

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Doh! The embargo isn’t working THE largest insurer in the Gulf should have taken out a policy on itself. Last year Qatar Insurance collected about 110m rials ($30m) in premiums from its Abu Dhabi office. But in September it announced that, because of a diplomatic dispute, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)would not renew its business licence, forcing it to close its branch in the Emirati capital. Its stock price has fallen by 30% since the beginning of the summer. It has been more than four months since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt closed their borders and cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. The so-called quartet wants the little gas-rich emirate to stop supporting Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab world’s most popular broadcast

Syria’s Kurds led the advance on Raqqa, but now may fracture

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The wreckage of Raqqa THE bodies of the dead would hang for days from the railings in the main square of Raqqa. It was a macabre reminder to residents that Islamic State (IS) had declared the capital of its so-called caliphate in the Syrian city. Signs around the victims’ necks revealed their crimes. Dozens were executed for spying; others for smoking or listening to music. This week that reign of terror ended. On October 17th, after four months of heavy fighting, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an army of Kurds and Arabs, took the square. Tying yellow and green flags to the railings where the bodies once hung, they stomped and shouted to celebrate. The capture of Raqqa highlights how over the past few years the SDF has become the most effective American-backed force in the fight a

AB InBev to sell stake in Zambia’s National Breweries to Zimbabwe’s Delta Corp

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Delta Corporation, Zimbabwe’s largest brewer and a unit of AB InBev said on Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in National Breweries of Zambia. In a released statement, Delta said that equity is being acquired from Heinrich’s Syndicate, also a subsidiary of AB InBev. “The equity is being acquired from Heinrich’s Syndicate, a subsidiary of AB InBev. The transaction is subject to various regulatory approvals. The impact of this transaction is currently being determined but is not material for Delta,” said Alex Makamure, Delta’s Company Secretary. National Breweries of Zambia is the leading sorghum (Opaque) brewer in Zambia whose products are sold under the Chibuku brand. Delta Beverages also brews the Chibuku brand and has a wealth of experience in th

PZ Cussons Nigeria suffers first quarter loss

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PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc, makers of a wide range of consumer products including electricals, personal and homecare products, dairy brands, among others reported a loss of N123m in the first quarter of its 2018 financial year ending on 31 August 2017. The company blamed its poor performance on higher cost of sales, driven by foreign exchange loss of N1.8bn. Cost of sales rose 17.6% to N12.9bn, while administrative expenses skyrocketed 42% to N1.87bn. The company also saw a higher interest cost of N348m, from N94m in the previous year and a 28,000% jump in net finance cost to N273m, driven by higher cost of sales, (in part driven by FX) and the FX impact on financing costs. Despite the challenges, the company posted an impressive 12.8% growth in sales to N18.9bn. While commenting on the Nigeri...