Looted SA funds will be recovered: Investors ready to back SA; Anglo, De Beers, Woolies, Discovery

By Linda van Tilburg

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa says those who have stolen money from South Africa needed to be tracked down no matter where in the world they are. Ramaphosa told Parliament that Eskom and Transnet have recovered more than R2.3bn in funds lost to corruption. And he knew that this was just a fraction of what has been lost to state capture and he would like to see more monies recovered. Ramaphosa said the National Prosecuting Authority was advertising more than 800 new jobs. He said the government is determined that all those who have stolen and those who continue to steal should “face the full might of the law” and they might need to be tracked down. The President also defended his proposed sovereign wealth fund and said he believed the wealth fund would contribute to long-term stability while the government addressed its immediate challenges.
  • Goldman Sachs new head, Jonathan Penkin says investors would be delighted to jump back into South Africa if the government made progress on structural reforms that would enable Goldmans to help draw foreign capital to the country. Penkin told Bloomberg that this was because companies and managements remained by-and-large of incredibly high quality. At the moment investors were taking a bit of a wait-and -see approach, he said. Commenting on steps taken to face South Africa’s ailing economy; Penkin said Ramaphosa has yet to deliver the overhaul business leaders need for resuscitated growth. He had little to show on addressing Eskom debt and other measures such as the sale of telecommunications spectrum and easing an onerous visa regime.
  • Anglo American’s full-year profits have climbed 9% before IBITDA and have risen to $10bn in the year to December from $9.16bn a year ago. Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said, the miner has benefited from product and market diversification with strong precious metals and iron ore prices offsetting weakness in diamonds and coal. Cutifani said he expected short term impact from the coronavirus epidemic in China on its diamond business but no further material impact as Anglo was less reliant on China. Anglo’s share price rose almost 2.5% on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It was also announced that Natascha Viljoen has been appointed as the new Amplats CEO.
  • De Beers posted the lowest profit since the end of the diamond monopoly with profits 50% down in 2019. Bloomberg reports that De Beers is battling a crisis which isn’t a lack of customers, but issues deeper in the supply chain which is that mining companies have dug up too many diamonds and there is an oversupply that has driven prices down. Cutifani said;  there were signs that the business had started to improve, but the coronavirus could set it all back. In the face of tumbling profits, De Beers is taking a hard look at the business and was reviewing the way it sells diamonds and may cut is number of accredited buyers at the end of the year.
  • The share price of Discovery rose by almost 7% yesterday after a drop of 8% earlier this week when Discovery warned that profits would drop by as much 13%. Investors were spooked by the profit warning but welcomed more detail on investments that have been hurting the bottom line. Discovery said investments in new ventures were weighted to the first six months of the year and were likely to decline in the second half. It said that spending on the bank will fall quickly over the coming years. Meanwhile, the Rand dipped yesterday amid renewed fears of the coronavirus.  The local currency tested the R15.00 level again ending yesterday on R15.12 to the US dollar.
  • Woolworths reported a 17.7% drop in half-year earnings yesterday dragged down by weak womenswear sales and a poor Black Friday showing.  Outgoing Chief Executive Officer Ian Moir said it was another tough period of trade. Moir said the retailer’s efforts to turn around the fashion business, particularly in womenswear would continue “with a focus on design do deliver better ranges and taste levels” as well on price. He said the coronavirus outbreak has hit sales because Woolworths Australian retailer David Jones had missed out on high-spending Chinese customers due to the travel ban. Woolworths share price fell 4.42% on the JSE.
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