Flash Briefing: SAA business rescue has cost R8bn; bond to save rhinos; Botswana trophy hunting; Bitcoin buys a Tesla

  • The Democratic Alliance (DA) has slammed the government’s plan to rescue the bankrupt South African Airways, stating that claims of a successful rescue are complete fiction. That’s according to MyBroadband.co.za, which reports that DA Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) Alf Lees says chat the business rescue process has cost South African taxpayers R7.8bn in bailouts since it began in December 2019. “The DA will make every effort to ensure that the SAA BRPs (Business Rescue Practitioners), SAA board, and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan cease their collective obfuscation and give clear and unambiguous answers when they appear before the standing committee on public accounts on Thursday 25 March 2021,” Lees said. “The facts are that the business rescue has cost the taxpayer, and poor South Africans in particular, a massive R7.8bn in cash taxpayer bailouts since the business rescue process started on the 5th of December 2019.” “In addition, the business rescue will continue to drain at least another R8bn in a futile attempt to begin minuscule flight operations and to keep our dead national bird operational,” Lees said.
  • A bond designed to raise funds to grow the population of endangered black rhinoceros in South Africa will be sold by the World Bank this year, reports Bloomberg. The five-year, R670 million ($45 million) security will be the world’s first wildlife conservation bond and the aim is to sell it in the middle of the year. Returns for investors will be determined by the rate of growth of the populations of the animals in two South African reserves in the Eastern Cape. If successful, the program could be expanded to protect black rhino populations in Kenya as well as other wildlife species such as lions, tigers, gorillas and orangutans.  Under the terms of the rhino bond, investors will forgo an annual coupon and will instead receive their original capital and an additional payout depending on how much the rhino population has grown over five years. The principal of the bond and the possible payout at maturity will be paid by the Global Environment Facility, which has received donations from more than 40 countries. Of the 29,000 rhinos made up of five species globally, about 80% are in South Africa and almost all them are white rhino. Three sites in Kenya may be chosen next for a bond sale, Rhino Impact said.
  • Botswana is offering rights to shoot 287 elephants as the southern African country, which has the world’s biggest population of the animals, tries to breathe life into a hunting industry stalled by the Covid-19 outbreak, reports Bloomberg. The hunting season will begin April 6, with licenses to kill leopards, zebras and buffaloes also on sale, according to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. With Covid-19 still raging across large parts of the world, including southern Africa, hunting operators will face an uphill battle to maximise earnings. Most hunters who visit the region traditionally come from the US, while a smaller number come from Spain, Eastern Europe and Russia.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that people in the United States can now buy a Tesla using Bitcoin, reports MyBroadband.co.za. Musk said on Twitter that Tesla is using only internal and open-source software and operates Bitcoin nodes directly. The Bitcoin paid to Tesla to purchase a vehicle will be retained as Bitcoin, and not converted to fiat currency. The Tesla CEO added that “Pay by Bitcoin” capability will be made available outside the United States later this year. Earlier this year, Musk helped to boost the Bitcoin price after he declared he was a supporter of the largest cryptocurrency. “Bitcoin is really on the verge of getting broad acceptance by conventional finance people,” Musk said. In February, Tesla announced that it has invested $1.5bn in Bitcoin, making it the biggest company yet to back the cryptocurrency. At the time Tesla also announced it would begin accepting the digital token as a form of payment for its electric cars.

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