Flash Briefing: Alcohol ban shatters glass industry; restaurant managers – booze ban arrests; Sibanye; Truworths

By Jackie Cameron

  • The alcohol ban is hammering South Africa’s glass packaging industry, which could lose a further R1.5 billion in sales if the latest ban on alcohol sales continues. The first two bans together resulted in losses of more than R1.5bn to the glass packaging industry, Consol Chief Executive Officer Mike Arnold is quoted as saying. Arnold has warned of likely job losses at Consol and most parts of its supply chain, adding any major extended loss of demand, at short notice, was “catastrophic.” The company, which supplies wine, spirits and beer bottles, is spending R8m a day to keep production and furnaces running even as orders run dry. South African Breweries, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev and a Consol customer, recently cancelled R2.5bn of investment earmarked for 2021.
  • Police have been cracking down on restaurants serving alcohol in contravention of Covid-19 regulations. Acting on tip-offs, Gauteng police arrested at least 3 managers of popular restaurants in Sandton and Silverton for selling liquor to patrons, in contravention to the Disaster Management Act and Covid-19 level three lockdown regulations. In a statement, Gauteng Saps spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said police received information through crime intelligence about a popular restaurant in Sandton, in West Street that was selling alcohol to patrons.
  • South African mining dealmaker Neal Froneman is considering retiring in two to three years time, but would first like to double the size of Sibanye-Stillwater, reports Bloomberg. Froneman built Johannesburg-based Sibanye into a company with a market value of more than R182bn by purchasing gold, platinum and palladium mines in southern Africa and the US. Now the 61-year-old is looking for acquisitions in battery metals, before handing over to a successor. “I would like to see the company’s size double to a $20bn market capitalisation plus before I move on,” Froneman said in an interview from his farm in South Africa’s Limpopo province. “Two to three years sounds like a good innings and I think we can deliver quite a lot in terms of our strategy.” Nicknamed Mr. Fix-It for turning around some of South Africa’ ageing gold mines, Froneman has identified opportunities in nickel, copper and lithium and may announce a deal this year. The company is also looking to acquire more gold assets, though high valuations are currently a deterrent, the CEO said.
  • Global stock markets sank on Monday as soaring Covid-19 cases offset investor hopes of a quick economic recovery, even after data showing that the Chinese economy rebounded faster-than-expected in the fourth quarter of 2020, reports Reuters. In Asia, Chinese blue chips gained 1.1% after the economy was reported to have grown 6.5% in the fourth quarter, on a year earlier, topping forecasts of 6.1%. China reported more than 100 new Covid-19 cases for the sixth consecutive day, with rising infections in the northeast fuelling concern of another wave when hundreds of millions of people travel for the Lunar New Year holiday.
  • Truworths was one of the best performers at the start of the week, gaining about 15% even though it has warned of a profit drop. For more on Truworths and insights on Johannesburg-listed retailers, listen to a special interview with independent analyst Chris Gilmour on BizNews Radio.

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