Flash Briefing: SA building sites ablaze; Google, Roundup, Investec, Hudaco, Brexit

By Alec Hogg

Today’s business headlines:

  • European antagonism against Big Tech gathered momentum yesterday when Google was fined €1.5bn by the EU for limiting how some websites could display ads sold by its rivals. The fine was bigger than expected and is the third antitrust fine applied by the EU against Google since 2017, taking the total to €8.3bn. Investors shrugged off the news, with the share price of Google’s parent Alphabet trading slightly higher
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday asked the European Union to delay its departure from the bloc by three months to June 30, suggesting that she will once more try to force reluctant British lawmakers to swallow a Brexit divorce deal, they have already rejected twice. But the Financial Times of London says a leaked paper it has seen says Brussels will strongly oppose the British request.
  • In the second such case to go before the courts, a San Francisco jury has found that a man developed cancer from exposure to Roundup weed killer. The six-person jury will now hear evidence to separately weigh whether Bayer should be held liable, a decision that could bring substantial financial damages against the company. Bayer was forced to pay almost $80m in the previous case. With an estimated 3,000 more cases being brought on similar lines, Bayer’s share price has taken a further knock, losing 10% yesterday. More in Biznews Premium.
  • In South Africa, some big construction sites have become a battle ground as armed gangs try to disrupt building operations in the name of radical economic transformation often demanding a 30% stake in the construction project. The South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors has written a letter to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni calling for a meeting between the captains of the construction industry and the Minister to discuss urgent action. More on Biznews.com.
  • It was a day of mostly red ink for the JSE ahead of the public holiday, with the all share index losing one and a quarter percent. The rand regained a little composure after yesterday’s Eskom related selloff, gaining 12c to R14.38 against the US dollar. Investec had a torrid day with both the Plc and Limited shares losing more than 5%. At the other end Northam Platinum was a feature, up 3.8%. A notable insider trade was the purchase by Hudaco executive director Louis Meiring of just over R2m worth of the company’s stock. Meiring, an electrical engineer, joined the company in November last year. Late last month CEO Graham Dunford and FD Clifford Amoils bought a touch over R6m worth of Hudaco stock between them. Hudaco shares spiked to R138 on the news but ended the day a modest 1.5% firmer at R134 in 146 deals.