Unilever agrees to dispose of margarine and spreads business – ANC conference results imminent

Unilever has announced it will dispose of its margarine and spreads business to KKR, a US private equity firm, for an amount of €6.83bn ($8.04bn). This comes after KKR outbid other rivals, managing to acquire brands like Blue Band, Country Crock and Flora. Unilever’s decision to sell came in April, following a review of its assets after Kraft Heinz made a $143bn unsolicited offer for the group. As it stands, Unilever plans to return the cash to shareholders, unless a more value-creating opportunity arises. The deal is currently set to close in mid-2018, but will be subject to regulatory approvals and employee consultations.

In currencies, the rand strengthened sharply against the dollar on Friday, with investors eagerly anticipating the outcome of the ANC’s elective conference. After a previous close of R13.51/$ on Thursday, the local currency made a strong start and extended gains as the session progressed. By 17:00, the rand was at R13.29/$, before moving to a high of R13.094/$ just before FX markets closed for the weekend. When currency markets opened last night, the rand surge to R12.766/$, before swiftly erasing its gains and moving to R13.09/$ this morning. The rand is expected to be extremely volatile today, with the outcome of the ANC conference set to be announced shortly.

In Asia, markets are higher, with the exception of the Shanghai Composite, helped along by investor optimism surrounding US tax reform plans and Wall Street’s surge on Friday. The Japanese Nikkei featured as the region’s top performer, up 1.33% at 22,852.89 index points, with banks, technology and automobile shares all in positive territory. Meanwhile, an uptick in resources helped the Australian ASX to add 0.65%, followed by a 0.41% increase in the Hang Seng. The Shanghai Composite was one of the few indices to languish in negative territory, down 0.12% at 3,262.01 index points.

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