Namibia has until recently been largely overlooked by the oil majors. A spate of farm-in agreements over the last six months suggests that this is changing. International oil companies are keen to secure a stake in the southern African country’s oil boom, should one materialise.

Austria’s OMV and Murphy Oil Corporation from Arkansas are the latest companies to make their first foray into the Namibian oil and gas sector, buying 25 and 40 per cent, respectively, of Cowan Petroleum’s licence to explore two blocks off the Namibian coast. Read more

Shares in Paladin rose after the miner announced the sale of a 25 per cent stake in its Namibia uranium mine to the China National Nuclear Corporation. The deal was partly about cutting debt at the Australian miner. But it also signals that low uranium prices, especially in the post-Fukushima era, are taking a toll on African exploration.

Between 2005 and 2007, the uranium price increased steeply from $20 per pound ($44 per kg) to almost $140 per pound ($311 per kg) during what came to be described as a ‘nuclear renaissance’. The drivers included growing momentum towards low carbon energy, carbon cap schemes, high oil prices and potentially epic demand for new nuclear capacity among large emerging economies. In several African countries, uranium surveys were eagerly commissioned and new deposits sought. Read more

It might be a small issue, but it’s a first: Namibia has issued a $96m bond denominated in South African rand, the first such bond issued by another sovereign.

The question is – what to call it? Read more

By Andrew Cadman and Bridgett Majola

There has recently been a great deal of hype regarding the opportunity that Africa presents to foreign investors seeking high returns no longer available in more developed markets.

Part of the attraction is often based on the assumption that the regulatory environments of African countries are unsophisticated or non-existent meaning that deals are easier to implement from a regulatory perspective. Whilst it is true that there was a time when doing business in Africa was relatively easy from a regulatory perspective, this situation is rapidly changing, particularly in the area of competition law and, more specifically, merger control. Read more

What’s fuelling Africa’s economic growth? Well, it’s fuel, partly. Whether you’re talking shipments of commodities overseas, or imported goods being snapped up by middle class Africans, the stuff mostly gets moved by truck on rough roads – and for that you need petrol.

That rising demand is one reason why a unit of Trafigura, a commodities trader, has agreed to pay $296m for BP’s petrol station and supply businesses in parts of southern Africa. Read more

By Thomas Williams of mergermarket

A little over a month ago South African steel stockist and bulk trader BSI’s chairman and founder Williams Battershill was strongly hinting to mergermarket of a deal to achieve “product and geographic diversification”. Today the company has succeeded in sealing the deal on an acquisition of steel merchant Staalbeer. Small though the deal may be, it reveals the tenor of an industry looking to consolidate amid a recession-driven fall in demand for steel. Read more