Mine deal kitty ‘sits at $10bn’

Mining mergers and acquisitions were likely to increase this year, led by more than $10 billion (R111.5bn) of deals by private funds, according to Ernst & Young (EY). The number of mining merger and acquisition deals last year declined 25 percent to 702, the smallest number since 2006, and their value fell 16 percent to $87.3bn, the lowest since 2009, EY said in a report on Monday. The figures did not include the $29bn all-share takeover by Glencore International of Xstrata, which was completed last year. EY predicted a revival in deals this year. “Private capital funds spent 2013 raising capital and we expect that to be deployed in 2014,” Lee Downham, the global mining transaction chief at EY in London, said in the report. “We estimate these investors have more than $10bn deal capacity across the sector and we expect to see some big deals being done over the next year.” – Bloomberg


Bernanke gets back to work

Former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke began his new job at the Brookings Institution on Monday, wasting no time getting back to work just three days after ending his tenure as head of the world’s most powerful central bank. Bernanke, who led the US central bank in its aggressive efforts to right the economy after the financial crisis, joined the centrist policy think tank in Washington as a distinguished fellow in residence, the Brookings Institution said. – Reuters


Interest rates stay at 11.5%

Uganda’s central bank held its benchmark lending rate at 11.5 percent yesterday, in line with the expectations of three out of five analysts after inflation edged higher last month. The Bank of Uganda also kept the rate steady in January after an unexpected cut in December. Uganda’s headline inflation rate rose to 6.9 percent in January from 6.7 percent a month earlier. “Although core inflation has decelerated, helped by recent Ugandan shilling appreciation, food prices – which have risen strongly in recent months – are still a concern,” Standard Chartered economist Razia Khan said in a note. Khan, who had expected rates to remain steady, said the growth forecast was robust, despite a conflict in South Sudan, a major trading partner on Uganda’s border. – Reuters


Financial sector pay cap mulled

Tougher guidelines on financial sector pay were under consideration by the UK watchdog, although extending a cap on banker bonuses to the wider industry looked like a step too far, a top regulator told British MPs yesterday. Under new EU rules, banker bonuses can be no higher than an individual’s fixed salary, rising to double that level if shareholder approval is obtained. Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Martin Wheatley told MPs that the watchdog’s remuneration code for banks and building societies would be reviewed. “We are consulting on the remuneration code later this year and a big consideration is whether and how far the code we have needs to be extended,” Wheatley told the Treasury select committee. – Reuters