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French-based Cerba HealthCare to take over Operations at Lancet Laboratories

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Cerba HealthCare will take control of Lancet Laboratories after announcing a joint venture to “strengthen provision of effective, evidence-based healthcare across Africa”.

Lancet Laboratories, a medical lab services provider with its headquarters in South Africa, has a significant presence in Kenya and other 14 countries. The financial detail of the JV deal has not been revealed.

The firm has over 1,400 employees serving 1.3 million patients a year, and generated Ksh5 billion in turnover last year.

“We are delighted to partner with Cerba HealthCare and are looking forward to expanding our efforts together and working to improve the health of African citizens,” Dr Peter Cole, CEO of Lancet Laboratories commented.

In Kenya, it runs under the name Pathologists Lancet Kenya and operates 38 labs and service points across the country, with Lancet Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda as PLK’s subsidiaries.

Competition Authority of Kenya approved the deal in December 2018 as “the transaction met the threshold for exclusion specified in Mergers Threshold Guidelines under the CAK Act”.

“The entry of Cerba Healthcare from Europe with their extensive experience of operating as an international corporate business brings on board new expected efficiencies, which together with their significant financial muscle, will enhance our operations, strengthen our reach and diversify our service offering across the region,” said Lancet Group of Laboratories in East Africa chief executive Dr Ahmed Kalebi.

The new JV deal will be known as Cerba Lancet Africa, and will cover operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The South African operations will not be part of the deal.

The move by Cerba HealthCare is part of the firm’s strategy to make significant forays across Africa, including the French-speaking countries that Lancet Laboratories did not have presence.

“Our common goal is to develop medical services in regions where we are already present and to expand into other countries,” said Cerba healthCare’s deputy chief executive Jérôme Thill.

Cerba HealthCare has its headquarters in Paris, where it operates a network of laboratories and technical facilities across Europe – mainly in france, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy – that serve more than 50 countries in Europe, Africa and Middle East.

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IMF pessimism + trade tensions = sickly stocks

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LONDON (Reuters) – Pessimism about global growth drove down world shares and commodity markets on Tuesday and left investors seeking refuge in the dollar, government bonds and gold.

People check their mobile phones as they stand outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The International Monetary Fund’s warning of a darkening outlook on Monday, after China’s confirmed its slowest growth rate in nearly 30 years, continued to weigh on the mood.

European shares followed Asia into the red as disappointing earnings from Swiss bank UBS (UBSG.S) compounded what had been a catastrophic 2018 for Europe’s banking sector .SX7E, which lost nearly 30 percent of its value over the year.

In its World Economic Outlook report, the IMF predicted the global economy would grow at 3.5 percent in 2019 and 3.6 percent in 2020, down 0.2 and 0.1 percentage point respectively from last October’s forecasts.

The downgrades heavily reflected weakness in Europe though, with Germany hurt by new car emission rules, Italy under market pressure due to Rome’s recent budget standoff with the European Union and Brexit worries aplenty too.

“We have seen a little bit of a pull back, but whether it’s the IMF growth downgrade or China related is neither here nor there,” said CMC Markets’ senior analyst Michael Hewson.

He pointed to the strong rebound markets like Germany’s Dax .GDAXI has seen since the end of December as well as other major global stock markets. .MIWD00000PUS

“We are at the top end of the range for this year and given the global uncertainty investors are probably taking the view that it is probably wise to take a bit of profit off the table.”

Futures markets pointed to another weak start for the U.S. later although the mood had improved a touch since Asian trading with Wall Street futures ESc1 1YMc1 NQc1 last off 0.5-0.7 percent. [.N]

In Asia, losses had been led by Chinese shares, with the blue-chip index .CSI300 off 1.2 percent. Japan’s Nikkei .N225 skidded 0.5 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index .HSI closed down 0.8 percent and Sydney faltered 0.5 percent. [.SS][.T]

In another sign of risk aversion, the Australian dollar AUD=D3, often used as a liquid proxy for China investments, eased 0.3 percent to $0.7134, putting it on track for a third straight session of losses.

The same worries had also sent copper, used in electrical wires and vehicles, drifting lower in the metals markets. [MET/L]

BREXIT PLANS

In the currency markets, the dollar .DXY held at a near three-week high as investors sought the relative safety of the U.S. currency.

That knocked the euro EUR= and most emerging market currencies, many of which have had a decent start to the year.

Sterling was a shade firmer at $1.29 after data showed British workers’ pay growth hit a new 10-year high and employment had grown by much more than expected in the three months to the end of November.

Otherwise traders were still waiting to see whether UK Prime Minister Theresa May can push her Brexit plans through the country’s bitterly divided parliament.

May had offered tweaks on Monday by seeking further concessions from the European Union on a backup plan to avoid a hard border between the British-administered province of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

But she had also refused to rule out leaving the EU at the end of March without any deal.

“Any upside for sterling in the near term may be limited,” said Capital Economics analyst Liam Peach. “Uncertainty would continue during the extended negotiations and there is no guarantee that it would last for only a short period of time.”

There was demand too for the safe-haven yen with the Japanese currency last buying at 109.41 per dollar. The euro was near the floor of its recent trading range at $1.1358 EUR=. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was barely changed at 96.393 .DXY.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks in strong wind caused by Typhoon Lan, past an electronic board showing the graphs of the recent movements of Japan’s Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

In commodities, the global growth worries pulled oil prices lower with Brent LCOc1 down 55 cents at $62.19 and U.S. crude futures CLc1 off 39 cents at $53.41. [O/R]

Euro zone government bond yields also fell. Most 10-year yields were down two basis points on the day with Germany’s at 0.225 percent DE10YT=RR compared to Friday’s one-month high close to 0.28 percent.

The European Central Bank holds its first meeting of the year on Thursday.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Richard Pullin and Jon Boyle

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NCPB caps buying of maize at 400 bags per farmer

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Workers pack maize into sacks after drying, at Eldoret Grains Limited in Uasin Gishu County on January 18, 2019. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has capped the purchase of maize at 400 bags worth Sh1 million, as the government moves to tame traders and large-scale holders who have been accused of abusing the window at the expense of small-scale farmers.

According to the government, any registered farmer with more than 400 bags of the produce must be cleared by the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR).

The SFR, which is buying two million bags from growers this year, says brokers, traders and middlemen are not eligible to sell their grain to the board.

“The purchase targets smallholder farmers with up to 400 bags of 90kg, brokers, middlemen and traders are not eligible,” says ministry of Agriculture in a statement.

This comes just a year after a serious breach by the management of NCPB in purchasing of the 2017 crop, where traders were allowed to sell their maize to the board.

This locked out genuine farmers as the stores were filled before they could deliver.

The laxity saw top officials of the board dismissed and charged in court for not taming the mess at the grain agency.

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Credit Suisse CEO sees conditions improving after tough fourth quarter

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Tidjane Thiam, CEO, Credit Suisse Group AG, speaks at the Milken Institute 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

ZURICH (Reuters) – Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) is seeing market conditions improve after a tough fourth quarter, Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said on Tuesday as rival UBS (UBSG.S) reported disappointing fourth-quarter results.

“It was a really difficult Q4, you can see the results of our peers who have announced (amid) volatile markets,” Thiam told Bloomberg Television in an interview from Davos. “Overall things have gotten better since the beginning of the year, 2019 has started better,” he added.

Asked whether he was worried about client outflows amid market volatility, he said: “We have seen deleveraging, it was visible a bit in Q3 and Q4, but overall our assets under management have been very resilient.”

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Oliver Hirt

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