Nairametrics| Though the Nigerian Stock Exchange has witnessed an uptick, stocks in the healthcare sector have typically being laggards. The pharmaceutical sector in particular has struggled with various challenges such as poor infrastructure, high tariffs on raw materials and difficulties in accessing foreign exchange. Two stocks however, have bucked the trend. Shares of May and Baker year to date have risen 56.38%. Fidson shares are up 39.84% year to date. Both beating the All Share Index which is up 4.61%
The massive increase in the share prices of both stocks has been attributed to rumours of a likely acquisition of May and Baker by Fidson Healthcare. Neither the NSE nor the two companies involved have issued a statement concerning merger talks.
A critical analysis of the financial statements for both companies shows Fidson is a bigger than May and Baker in all ramifications. May and Baker has issued and fully paid share capital of 980 million shares which gives a market capitalization of N1.44 billion at current prices. Fidson healthcare on the other hand has an issued share capital of 1.5 billion making its market capitalization N2.6 billion.
Fidson also has bigger retained earnings. Results for the first quarter ended March 2017, put its retained earnings at N2.9 billion. May and Baker had retained earnings of N919 million as at March 2017. Fidson could therefore buy a 50% stake in May and Baker plc from its retained earnings.
Fidson may be interested in May and Baker because of its bio vaccine and food units. First quarter results show the company made N2.3 billion in revenue, of which N491 million was from the foods unit. Of the total profit of N683 million made, N72 million was made from food.
In response to enquiries from both investors and the NSE, both companies have issued press releases. The Fidson healthcare press release calls talk of a merger /acquisition baseless and speculative. May and Baker in its statement, sees the merger/acquisition talk as malicious, since the current management is strategically positioning the company for greater heights.
Microsoft plans to train 25 million workers for free in 2020
A number of organizations, over the past few months have come up with similar training programs.
Microsoft Corp aims to provide free online classes and resources for job-hunting to 25 million people by the end of 2020 as a way to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The classes are going to be held on LinkedIn and GitHub online platforms and are expected to teach 10 highly demanded jobs.
The training is available to workers across the globe and it is geared towards teaching digital skills. The pandemic, having created a more technology-dependent face of work, and Microsoft is on a quest to aid the development of digital skills ranging from data analysis, digital marketing, and help-desk services.
Microsoft, leveraging data from its LinkedIn business, chose 10 job roles as a result of the growing demand for them as well as their potential to provide opportunities for a wide range of people – including those without college degrees.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, called it “the largest skills initiative” explaining that Automation and artificial intelligence are changing the skills required for probably every occupation; hence, workers without digital skills will fall further and further behind.
“Everything we envisioned when 2020 began has accelerated more quickly than we imagined. Even when COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror, equipping individuals with work skills will remain an extremely important priority for companies like us and for the economy as a whole.”
Skills training in recent years has moved increasingly online, as providers of online classes like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and others have emerged, offering ease and affordability compared to traditional education options.
A number of organizations, over the past few months have come up with similar training programs. Just last month, Bank of America noted that job training and career reskilling would be one of its four focus areas for $1 billion in funding for economic-opportunity initiatives over the next four years. In the same month, Walmart Foundation had also donated $6 million to Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit organization focused on identifying and scaling successful workforce-development programs.
Microsoft will give users access to LinkedIn content for “learning paths” relating to the 10 jobs until the end of 2020. Its commitment also includes $20 million in grants to organizations that will support individuals using the free resources, as well as $5 million to companies that cater to the needs of communities of color.
Andela to expand presence to all African countries
Andela also announced it will accept Pan African applications from engineers with full-stack programming experience.
Global Engineering Talent company, Andela that helps companies build remote engineering teams announced on Wednesday that it now accepts Engineers from all African countries.
Andela says it is a bid “ to double is final talent pool and connect an even greater number of specialist engineers with opportunities”.
Andela also announced it will accept Pan African applications from engineers with full-stack programming experience such as Node, React, Python and Ruby.
Andela co-founder, Jeremy Johnson says, “Over the past five years, we have become experts at identifying engineering excellence from non-traditional backgrounds. We know that there are extremely talented engineers across Africa and we believe that opportunity should not be limited by proximity to a major tech hub. Being a remote-first engineering organization allows us to open up access to Andela for engineers across the continent.”
He added that the removal of location-based restrictions will help double Andela’s talent pool to roughly 500,000 engineers in Africa, who will leverage on Andela’s work with top international engineering teams.
Andela’s customers include Cloudflare, Wellio, ViacomCBS and Women Who Code and helps them gain access to high-quality software engineers who work as long-term, embedded team members.
Andela said the announcement will enable companies that it works with to source the talent they need, “by opening up to additional talent pools access the continent.”
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Co-founder Johnson also said the world is realising remote work will be a catalyst for “democratization of opportunity by doubling our talent pool, we are professional to help accelerate their critical work of building the future.”
Absa was launched in 2014 and prior to being a fully remote organization, Andela operated in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. the company says it has fully completed the transition to full remote with a pilot program in Ghana (2018) and Egypt last year.
Mr. Price plans to exit Nigeria, closes stores in the country
The company said it is going to be focusing on South Africa in a more concentrated way.
Mr. Price Group is making plans to close its Nigerian business to focus on its home market business in South Africa.
The popular affordable clothing, sport, and home wear brand has closed four out of its five Nigerian stores and expects to close the last one in the coming months.
This was disclosed by its Chief Executive Officer, Mark Blair.
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Nigeria is the third country where the company has exited, as it had left Australia and Poland just last year. The Durban-based company cited challenges like supply-chain disruptions and challenges in getting funds out of the country as reasons it has struggled to operate in Nigeria.
Mark Stirton, Chief Financial Officer of Mr. Price explained that, “We are really going to focus on South Africa in a more concentrated way.”
The company is just one out of the few companies that have left Nigeria over the past few years. Companies like Woolworths Holdings Ltd. left the country in 2013. Shoprite Holdings Ltd. had also noted just last year that it may close some stores in the country as well.
The company predicts that it might face a few challenges among other retail companies in South Africa particularly owing to the lockdown it is only gradually emerging from.
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Consequently, Mr. Price had been seeking out ways to conserve cash; it froze head-office salaries and did not declare a final dividend. It also announced plans to sell shares so as to expand its operations through growth, last year.