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  • *South32 net debt at $674 mln, well below forecasts. MELBOURNE, March 17- BHP Billiton has put far less debt than expected into its $13 billion South32 spin-off, positioning the company formed from its unloved assets to weather tough markets and still pay a dividend. Named for the line of latitude linking its two main centers, Australia and South Africa, South32 had...

  • MELBOURNE, March 17- BHP Billiton has positioned its South32 spin-off for future growth, tipping in much less debt than expected to the new company made up of BHP's unloved assets when it lists in May. In the longer term, BHP would be better placed to achieve "substantial productivity gains beyond the $4 billion per annum already targeted" by the end of 2016/ 17, Chief...

  • LONDON, March 16- South Africa's mining minister said on Monday he expected to start issuing shale exploration licences later this year. "At the moment we are going through the consultation process," Ngoako Ramatlhodi told Reuters on the sidelines of the Chatham House extractive Industries in Africa conference. Earlier in the day, Royal Dutch Shell had said it...

  • UPDATE 2-Shell pulls back from shale in South Africa Monday, 16 Mar 2015 | 10:23 AM ET

    JOHANNESBURG, March 16- Royal Dutch Shell is pulling back from its shale projects in South Africa due to lower energy prices and delays in obtaining an exploration licence for the onshore Karoo Basin, it said on Monday. Chairman Bonang Mohale, who said the company was going to a "low cost holding position", told Reuters oil prices would need to be between $60 to $80 a...

  • Correction: Algeria-Corruption story Monday, 16 Mar 2015 | 9:57 AM ET

    ALGIERS, Algeria— In a March 15 story about the Sonatrach corruption trial in Algiers, The Associated Press reported erroneously that ambassadors from the United States, Germany and Italy had attended the trial. Algeria's enormous oil corruption scandal finally goes to trial 5 years after discovery. ALGIERS, Algeria— Five years after it first came to light, the...

  • *Africa key to rising global food demand. Human food production will need to increase 70 percent by 2050 to meet rising demand and Africa is home to more than half of the world's unused arable land, according to United Nations research. "Africa is key to global food supply and we need to unlock its potential," said Mark Davies, a dotcom veteran who runs Esoko, which...

  • LONDON, March 16- Scientists are to test a new two-shot Ebola vaccine using an experimental shot from Britain's GlaxoSmithKline, which is already in clinical trials in Africa, and a new kind of booster from Emergent BioSolutions. The Maryland- based biotech company said on Monday its modified vaccinia Ankara Ebola Zaire vaccine would be used in an initial Phase...

  • Scripps to take controlling stake in Poland's TVN Monday, 16 Mar 2015 | 7:43 AM ET

    NEW YORK— Scripps Networks is buying a controlling interest in Poland's TVN for about $613 million in cash, expanding the footprint of the U.S. the television company in Europe. Two years ago, Scripps acquired Travel Channel International Ltd., a U.K. concern that runs the Travel Channel in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.,...

  • BEIJING— China has overtaken Germany to become the world's third-biggest arms exporter, although its 5 percent share remains small compared to the combined 58 percent of exports from the U.S. and Russia, a new study says. China had long been a major importer of weapons, mainly from Russia and Ukraine, but its soaring economy and the copying of foreign technology...

  • ALGIERS, Algeria— Five years after it first came to light, the trial began Sunday for one of Algeria's most notorious corruption scandals involving the state-run oil company that generates most of the country's revenue. In a packed courthouse that included the ambassadors of Italy, the U.S. and Germany, prosecutors read out the charges against former head of...

  • Peaceful protests against shale gas in Algeria Saturday, 14 Mar 2015 | 2:42 PM ET

    Organizers say more than 1,000 demonstrators protested in Ouargla, a city 466 miles south of Algiers. Another 1,000 demonstrators participated in a separate protest in In Salah, 785 miles south of Algiers, according to Algeria's state news agency APS. Demonstrations have been ongoing since the beginning of the year against the possible environmental damage...

  • *Number of boats arriving in Italy jumps 43 percent. BRUSSELS, March 13- European Union foreign ministers will on Monday consider helping set up camps in the Middle East and Africa where people can request asylum on site without having to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe, officials said. "The idea is to establish camps in Africa, on the...

  • *Even in Liberia, misconceptions linger. MONROVIA/ DAKAR, March 13- Seven months after Ebola paralysed Liberia's capital, Friday marked 21 days since the country registered a case of the virus- offering lessons to its neighbours on the importance of surveillance and education in beating the deadly epidemic. At the peak of Liberia's outbreak, the world watched in...

  • MILAN/ LONDON, March 13- Italy's Eni cut its dividend and suspended a share buyback programme on Friday, becoming the first oil major to reduce payouts after a steep oil price decline in a bid to save funds to spur future production growth. In the first major business plan of Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi, Italy's biggest listed company said it would pay a 2015...

  • EU considers foreign camps to handle asylum seekers Friday, 13 Mar 2015 | 12:16 PM ET

    BRUSSELS, March 13- European Union foreign ministers will on Monday consider helping set up camps in the Middle East and Africa where people can request asylum on site without having to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe, officials said. At least 3,500 people, many of them fleeing poverty and fighting, died trying to make the journey in...

  • SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, March 13- Qalaa Holdings, one of Egypt's largest investment companies, said on Friday its investment strategy would focus on opportunities presented by reforms in the energy sector. Speaking at an investment conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, Qalaa chairman Ahmed Heikal said he was highly encouraged by the...

  • SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt— Egypt raked in promises of more than $12 billion in investment and aid from its Gulf Arab allies on Friday, kicking off an international conference aimed at rescuing the country's gutted economy and giving a political boost to its soldier-turned-president. The three-day gathering in the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh is meant to show...

  • *In Nigeria, street hawkers seize their chance. ABUJA, March 13- Few Nigerians are applauding the collapse of oil prices, which has hit the economy of Africa's top crude producer hard and hammered its currency, the naira. In other African crude producers such as Angola and South Sudan, the sharp drop in oil receipts has caused the official supply of dollars to dry up,...

  • Britain applies to join Chinese-led Asian bank Friday, 13 Mar 2015 | 2:09 AM ET

    BEIJING— Britain has become the first major Western government to apply for membership in a proposed Chinese-led Asian regional bank that Washington worries will undercut institutions such as the World Bank. For now, the United States and its close allies Japan, South Korea and Australia are not part of the new club. Washington has expressed concern the new...

  • March 12- NBC News said on Thursday that its chief medical correspondent, Nancy Snyderman, is leaving the network months after the doctor made a controversial decision to break an Ebola quarantine to get take-out soup from a restaurant. Snyderman, who has been with NBC for 9 years, said in a statement that she will return to academic medicine.