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Kina Depreciates Against All Major Currencies - Except the Yen
by PNG Business News - April 12, 2021
According to the Bank of PNG (BPNG), the average regular kina exchange rate has depreciated against all major currencies except the Japanese yen as of March 8.
The kina depreciated by 8.1 per cent against the Australian dollar, 7.5 per cent against the British pound sterling, 2.8 per cent against the Euro, and 0.9 per cent against the US dollar, according to BPNG's quarterly economic bulletin for the September 2020 quarter. It appreciated by 1.3 per cent against the Japanese yen.
BPNG Governor Loi Bakani said the country's foreign exchange reserves were K9.5 billion (US$2.7 billion) at the end of December.
“As of March 5, 2021, the level of foreign exchange reserves decreased to K8.46 billion (US$2.41 billion), reflecting debt service payments for the Government and intervention by the Central Bank in the foreign exchange market,” he said.
Meanwhile, the global economy shows signs of improvement in the December quarter of last year, according to reports.
However, the second phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, which included a new virus, began to hit major economies, delaying recovery.
“As a result, most countries have not completely opened up their borders to the movement of people,” he said. “The development and trial of Covid-19 vaccines that continued into the last quarter of 2020 provided some level of confidence for the global market and the world economy. In its January world economic outlook (WEO) update, the International Monetary Fund, projected the world economy to contract by 3.5 per cent in 2020 from its earlier projection of a decline of 4.4 per cent in the October WEO. For 2021, recovery has been upgraded with a growth rate of 5.5 per cent, reflecting the trial and introduction of Covid-19 vaccines.”
PNG Business News - March 18, 2021
Kina Bank supports KTF education program for second year
Kina Bank has pledged support for the second consecutive year to the FODE education program administered by the Kokoda Track Foundation at the Motu Koita FODE centre in Port Moresby. The bank is funding the FODE program and providing mentoring by bank staff to students enrolled at the centre. The one-on-one mentoring program offers students the opportunity to connect with young and seasoned professionals across the bank who provide coaching, and help with their studies, assessments and to prepare for exams. Building on the success of last year, students have direct personal access to a mentor who can guide them on their path to success and help them reach their goals. "Our partnership with Kina Bank is that in every sense of the word. From vital financial support, to their innovative volunteer mentoring program and all of the 'small' ways they assist our work in between, we are proud to partner with Kina Bank and are delighted to continue developing our partnership this year," said KTF CEO, Dr Genevieve Nelson. "In these challenging times, we are poised to deliver a full year of learning to our students, committed to the safety of our students and staff. We are fortunate to have an incredible partner like Kina Bank by our side on this education journey." Kokoda Track Foundation reported to have enrolled 150, an increase in numbers from 2020. “Continuing the partnership with the Foundation for Motu Koita FODE was an easy decision for us, building further on the success of the previous year and to see through some of the students in grades 10 and 11 mentored last year,” said Greg Pawson Kina Bank Chief Executive Officer. “The bank is committed to helping create the workforce of the future by supporting the learning and development of young people in Papua New Guinea. Initiatives such as the Motu Koita FODE program gives a second chance to young people to attain high school certification and progress to higher education and eventually transition into employment with skills and qualifications. At Kina Bank we’re committed to supporting our communities.”
PNG Business News - March 29, 2021
ICCC Evaluating Kina Banks Acquisition of Westpac
Kina Securities Ltd (KSL) has sent an application to the Independent Consumer Competition Commission (ICCC) for approval of its proposed acquisition of Westpac's Pacific company. Through the authorisation process, ICCC will determine the acquisition's competition consequences and public gains, according to Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Paulus Ain. This will be achieved by a public review process in which the ICCC will accept comments from stakeholders and the general public before reaching a definitive judgment about whether or not to approve the acquisition under the ICCC Act. “The process that ICCC will conduct is very transparent and it is very important for the people of this country, especially from the finance and banking sector, to get themselves involved,” Ain said. “The process has now started and we are formally inviting the people in the finance and banking sector, other commentators, interested parties and the public to the process on assessment. We are looking forward to seeing a lot of submissions come in and this process starts effectively today (Friday).” KSL is awaiting ICCC approval to purchase 89.91 per cent of Westpac PNG Ltd. The proposed acquisition has reached the threshold needed under section 81 of the ICCC Act for mandatory notification and obtaining ICCC approval to continue with the acquisition, according to the ICCC. The authorisation process, according to Ain, has no bearing on the ICCC's decision on who buys. “This is something that ICCC does not or is not required by law to do this,” he said. “It’s outside of the ICCC’s role.”
PNG Business News - March 16, 2021
KAML Makes A Profit of K3.3 Million
The Kina Asset Management Ltd (KAML) made a net profit of K3.32 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, thanks to a 6.2 per cent investment return. The achievement was made amid the Covid-19 pandemic and continuing geopolitical conflicts, according to KAML chairman Sir Rabbie Namaliu. Sir Rabbie praised KAML's investment strategy's diversification for providing a substantial measure of stability in a tumultuous year. He said, “Asset allocation was maintained close to the preferred portfolio asset weights of 40 per cent domestic/60 per cent international, the latter being held in Australian stocks and global indexed funds. For KAML, this meant overall capital losses were more than offset by dividend and interest income and strong foreign exchange gains. Bank of South Pacific, KAML’s core domestic shareholding, comprising nearly 20 per cent of the portfolio, generated a return of 13.3m per cent for the year. Credit Corporation also performed strongly.” Sir Rabbie, on the other hand, reported that Oil Quest and Kina Securities had experienced major reversals. “Oil Search, badly affected by the pandemic-related fall in the global demand for oil, reported a negative return for the fund of -39.6 per cent,” he said. “Offshore, the recovery in Australia was less strong than in other markets, notably the United States. The year ended with modest overall capital losses on the Australian component of the portfolio, but the strength of the Australian dollar and a series of gradual reductions in the PGK/USD trading band by the Bank of PNG, more than offset this.” Sir Rabbie reported that the net tangible asset backing per share was K1.59 as of December 31. “However, KAML’s price of K0.90 per share represented a substantial discount to the underlying value of the company,” he said.
PNG Business News - July 22, 2021
Oil Search Considering Merging with Santos
Santos, an Australian oil firm, announced its plan to combine with Oil Search Limited. Santos proposed a non-binding indicative merger last month with the goal of making the two companies the regional energy champions. The proposed merged entity has a market capitalization of A$22 billion (K56 billion), putting it among the top 20 ASX-listed companies and the top 20 global oil and gas companies. This means, among other things, that the merger will have a diverse portfolio of high-quality, long-life assets spanning Australia and Papua New Guinea, a solid balance sheet with ample cash to support expansion choices, and an investment-grade credit rating. The merger plan, if approved, would be conducted through a Scheme of Arrangement in which Oil Search shareholders would receive 0.589 new Santos shares for each Oil Search share held, according to Santos in a market disclosure to the Australian Stock Exchange. Following the scheme's acceptance, Oil Search shareholders would control 37% of the combined company, while Santos shareholders would own 63%. Based on Santos' closing price on June 24, 2021, the ownership ratio suggested a transaction price of A$4.25 (10.92) per Oil Search share. This was a 12.3% premium to the Oil Search closing price of A$3.78 (K9.72) on June 24, 2021, and a 9.8% premium to the Mubadala block trade selling price of A$3865. (K9.92). Kevin Gallagher, managing director and chief executive officer of Santos, said the merger will bring more alignment to PNG, allowing for the development of important projects such as Papua LNG, as well as the creation of new employment and support for the local economy. Santos, according to Gallagher, has proposed a true merger in which ownership of the combined firm is based on proportionate contribution and value. “The strategic rationale for a merger is clear and offers superior value to Oil Search shareholders rather than continuing on a standalone basis. “Santos continues to believe that the Merger Proposal represents an extremely attractive opportunity to deliver compelling value accretion to both Santos and Oil Search shareholders.” Oil Search stated in its ASX market update that it is open to receiving and engaging with any proposal that is in the best interests of its shareholders. While the company's board of directors agrees with Santos that combining the two firms makes strategic sense, the conditions must be fair to the company's shareholders, which the terms proposed by Santos are not. Despite Santos shareholders holding 70% more shares than Oil Search shareholders, Oil Search maintains that the proposed conditions provide just a 6.8% premium based on Friday's closing share prices for Oil Search and Santos. According to the firm, no such proposal has been made at this time. Reference: Post-Courier (21 July 2021). "Oil Search Open To Merger with Santos".
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Study Says Sweet Potato Growers Have Received Significant Insights into Customers Buying Habits
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), sweet potato (kaukau) growers have received significant insight into customer buying habits, which is assisting them in identifying new market possibilities. The recent market analysis, which was supported by the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership and conducted by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, revealed that an increasing number of consumers in Port Moresby prefer to buy fresh produce from supermarkets, citing convenience and safety as reasons. While this trend may result in fewer consumers at conventional farmer markets, PNG and Australian experts believe it may open up new marketplaces for rural people. “Farmers are looking for stable markets where they can receive more consistent prices for better-quality produce,” said Professor Philip Brown from Central Queensland University (CQU), who is leading the research project. “The research shows that consumer behaviour is likely to support an expansion in the supermarket sector in large urban centres and this is positive news for the farmers. This could allow commercial focused farmers to secure more stable market access.” The study of 353 customers was conducted as part of ACIAR-funded sweet potato research sponsored by CQU and the PNG National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), which aims to improve sweet potato value chains by increasing the quality of harvested roots. Sweet potato quality and production are improving, resulting in increasing supplies to retailers eager to provide better fresh produce. “The project, with support from the Fresh Produce Development Agency and NARI, is helping farmers to build their business skills and connect with emerging supermarket opportunities,” said Professor Brown. Kirt Hainzer, a CQU researcher who collaborated on the survey alongside NARI researchers, said it was the first study to look at customer behaviour and see what role stores may play in the development of PNG's commercial sweet potato sector. “The research sought to better understand and compare how consumers buy staples from open markets and supermarkets and to explore the preferences for purchasing staple foods as supermarkets increase the availability of convenience staples like rice,” said Hainzer. “Although expanding formal sales represents a huge step forward in developing a commercial sweet potato industry, continued research on consumer preferences and the market for fresh produce will help better understand trends in staple food purchasing and what market opportunities exist for growers.” With over a hundred kinds of sweet potato in the nation, NARI economist Raywin Ovah said the study sought to find out which of these customers preferred. “Not all the varieties are preferred from a consumer point of view. There are only a few that consumers want to be based on the taste or health properties and that is what we want to also find out. Farmers can be provided with that information, so they produce those varieties that the market wants.” One of five initiatives under the Transformative Agriculture and Enterprise Development Program is a project to increase commercial sweet potato production and commercialization in the PNG highlands. The ACIAR program, which is funded by Australia in collaboration with the government of Papua New Guinea, aims to improve the livelihoods of rural men and women through private sector-led development, increased agricultural productivity and quality, and the development of individual and institutional capacity. Reference: Loop (20 July 2021). “Study looks into sweet potato industry”.
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Garry: MRA Evaluating K50 Billion Worth of Investments
According to managing director Jerry Garry, the Mineral Resources Authority is evaluating more than K50 billion in investments in the country. Wafi-Golpu, Frieda River, and Woodlark are among them. “We are also looking at the Central Lime and Cement,” he said. “If that project comes on-stream, it will be one of the first industrial mines ever built in the country.” Garry was speaking at a Port Moresby consultation session on the Mine and Works (Safety and Health) Bill 2021. PNG, he added, was home to some of the world's largest mines. “We have grown from strength to strength,” he said. “If you compare the Bank of PNG statistics, the mining sector alone, in terms of production, has exported over K17 billion in 2020 and 2019. “So it’s a huge industry that we are trying to regulate and manage.” Garry expressed gratitude to the industry for making safety a primary priority. “They have been taking health and safety at the workplaces very seriously,” he said. “We must not only consider (the workers) and the environment but also people living around the (areas) we operate in. “And if we are using any hazards, we must also take responsibility.” The newest mining methods in Wafi-Golpu, known as block cave mining, are one of the new things to expect, according to Garry. “New mining hazards will come with this new mining method,” he said. Reference: The National (20 July 2021). “Authority assessing investments worth K50bil”.