Flash Briefing: Taxpayers cough up another R5bn for SAA staff; Bitcoin reaches $50,000; Glencore; Spar; Resilient

  • Taxpayers have forked out another R5bn so that South African Airways can pay severance packages to staff laid off as part of its rescue plan, reports Reuters. SAA entered a local form of bankruptcy protection in December 2019 after roughly a decade of financial losses, with its fortunes worsening after the Covid-19 pandemic grounded flights. The government committed to providing R10.5bn to bailout the airline in October’s mid-term budget. The business rescue practitioners hired to restructure the airline said they had received R7.8bn from the government including the latest payment. More than 3,000 SAA employees have accepted severance packages, while 1,300 are still in negotiations.
  • Bitcoin topped $50,000 for the first time, doubling in less than two months as the digital currency continued its run higher, says The Wall Street Journal. The total market value of bitcoin in circulation rose to $940bn.
  • Glencore reinstated its dividend on the back of record trading profits as the world’s biggest commodity trader reports its final results under the leadership of billionaire Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg. Bloomberg says that Glencore benefited from profitable bets on volatile oil swings in the first half of the year, and metals earnings jumped after prices soared following a plunge earlier in 2020. It’s also seeing a turnaround at the long-troubled African copper business. The company has brought its debt back down to within a target range and said it’s planning for further improvements this year. Glasenberg, who’s held the top job for almost two decades, will in the coming months hand over to Gary Nagle, a fellow South African.
  • South African grocery retailer Spar Group said on Tuesday group sales rose by 9.8% in the 18 weeks ended Jan. 29 but the country’s ban on alcohol hit liquor sales. Troubled multinational retailer Steinhoff was among the worst performers at the end of Tuesday.
  • Resilient stock rose about 5% on news from the property company about the potential sale of shopping malls.

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