Flash Briefing; Sudan, Algeria celebrate; Aspen, Investec, Absa gain; SpaceX seeks $500m

By Alec Hogg

In today’s global business news healines:

  • Last week’s ousting of Sudan’s supposed president for life, 75-year-old Omar al-Bashir, is ushering in a raft of new democratic freedoms. After mass protests which led to a military council ejecting al-Bashir and taking control last Thursday, the country has cancelled the curfew, freed political prisoners and promised to review many laws introduced by a dictator who ruled for 30 years. Al-Bashir is well known in South Africa. In 2017, the country attracted global condemnation when former president Jacob Zuma shielded the tyrant from arrest by the International Criminal Court which wants him to stand trial for war crimes. The ousting of al-Bashir followed four months of mass action in which dozens of Sudanese protestors were killed. He is the second African dictator this month to be forced from office of their oil rich countries by citizens who have cried enough, following Algeria’s ejection of 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had ruled that country for the past 20 years.
  • Despite the controversy that surrounds his erratic actions at electric car maker Tesla, South African-born and raised entrepreneur Elon Musk still possesses plenty of money pulling power. Yesterday the other company, SpaceX, announced it is to raise an additional $500m towards funding Musk’s ambitious internet-via-satellite business that’s considered as key to its future. SpaceX’s multi-billion-dollar Starlink project, is a proposed constellation of more than 10,000 interconnected satellites to provide broadband connectivity everywhere on earth. Currently the biggest network of satellites numbers a modest 100. SpaceX is competing with Jeff Bezos’s Amazon which last month filed plans with the stock market for its own internet service through a constellation of 3,000 satellites. Musk reacted by tweeting that Bezos is a copycat.
  • After reporting a 21% drop in its latest quarterly profit, the share price of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs lost 3% yesterday, interrupting its gain of one fifth so far this year. Like rival JPMorgan Chase which reported similar numbers last week, the reverse at Goldman was largely the result of a sharp decline in comparable trading revenue after an unusually strong first three months of 2018. In the other big major banking story of the moment, Deutsche Bank is poised to evoke a rarely used accounting policy on “badwill” to get valuations into line for the potential merger with German counterpart Commerzbank. After a string of poor financial results, both banks are viewed negatively by investors, but are being egged on by a German government seeking to create a national champion.
  • The Rand’s good recent run ended yesterday with the currency losing 7.5c against the US dollar to trade slightly above R14 to the greenback. The JSE also had a losing session with softer industrials and resources pulling the overall index down a quarter of a percent. Pharma group Aspen continued its recovery from recent reverses, leading the heavyweights with a 3% share price improvement. Investec also enjoyed a meaningful recovery, rising 2.5% to R92.32 with Absa doing best in a firmer banking sector, up 3%. The all market index was also weighed down by a 2.2% reverse for Naspers. Gold miner Sibanye had another torrid day with its recent heavy hits amplified through another 3.3% price decline that takes the share price to a two-month low of R13.43.