Flash Briefing: GEPF ‘financially’ sound; PP ‘helping’ Gordhan; AMCU on watch; Zuckerberg fortune rises

By Linda van Tilburg

In today’s business headlines:

  • The head of the Government Employees Pension Fund says the fund is financially sound and there is no need for an increase in contributions by employers. This is after Alexander Forbes Financial Services raised concerns about a R5.6bn shortfall per year. The fund is exposed to the Public Investment Corporation currently under investigation, Information Technology group Ayo and Steinhoff International Holdings. Sithole told reporters in Cape Town that the accountants and actuaries told him the fund is doing very well and is financially sound.
  • Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she is investigating Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to help him, and I quote ‘clear his name.’ Speaking to journalists, she said she can’t be requested to provide documents and proofs. This is after Minister Gordhan indicated he is fed-up with the Public Protector after she subpoenaed him again about the so-called rogue unit at the South African Revenue Service. More on the simmering tension between the two on biznews.com.
  • The labour department is planning to deregister one of the country’s biggest and most aggressive mining unions, just weeks before crucial platinum-industry wage talks are expected to begin. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has shaken up the country’s mining industry over the past decade and gained prominence after the Marikana massacre. The reason given by the department is that AMCU “has ceased to function in terms of its constitution,” and “is not a genuine trade union.”
  • Brent crude reached $75 a barrel for the first time since October as the US decision to remove Iran sanctions waivers combined with a drop in Russian flows, fuel supply fears. Saudi Arabia appears to be in no rush to replace the one million barrels of oil a day which is off the market if Iran runs to zero. To add to the woes, Russian crude deliveries to parts of Europe have been halted amid complaints of contamination. This linked to the strong dollar is not good news for motorists who could face higher petrol and diesel prices.
  • After declining about $20bn last year, Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune is bouncing back. Facebook shares jumped in New York trading yesterday – increasing his net worth by about $4.6bn – after the social-networking firm reported first-quarter earnings that won near-unanimous praise from Wall Street analysts. That brings his year-to-date advance to $24bn. Facebook shares have increased by 49 percent this year.