Flash Briefing: Ramaphosa cabinet cull begins; Pioneer plummets; GOT set-back knocks Naspers

By Jackie Cameron

In today’s Biznews Flash Briefing:

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has moved quickly to show he is serious about cleaning up his cabinet following May 8 elections. On Monday he axed Environment Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. Ramaphosa is due to be sworn in on May 25 and name his cabinet a day or two later. He’s indicated he will trim his executive to save costs. Currently, there are 34 ministers and 35 deputies. But Mokonyane had a soft landing after being booted from Ramaphosa’s cabinet. ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule – also at the centre of corruption allegations – told reporters in Cape Town that Mokonyane would keep a senior position in parliament. She was nominated Parliament Chair of Chairpersons on Monday
  • In other key changes, the ANC has appointed Thandi Modise as speaker of Parliament, in place of Baleka Mbete, and Pemmy Majodina as its chief whip, in place of Jackson Mthembu. Mbete and Mthembu are both senior ANC members who backed Ramaphosa’s campaign to win control of the party in 2017, and are believed to be in line for ministerial posts.
  • On the JSE, Pioneer Foods was the big loser of the day. Its share price plunged about 12% after the release of its half-year results. Its bosses said maize shortages were partly to blame for disappointing earnings. Pioneer, which exports to dozens of countries, uses maize in many of its products and says it was unable to counter the shortfall. Pioneer results disappointed some analysts, who were expecting a better performance from the group after a disastrous previous year.
  • Also dragging down the JSE FTSE All-Share Index was Naspers, which dropped about 4% on Monday. South Africa’s Naspers, with 31%, is the biggest shareholder in Hong Kong listed Chinese tech giant Tencent, which took a hit earlier in the day. The Tencent share price fell after the company delayed the broadcast of “Game of Thrones” finale episode, which prompted uproar among fans of the popular TV series in China.
  • Also hammering Hong Kong stocks were concerns about US sanctions against Chinese mobile phone company Huawei. After the Trump administration added Huawei to a list of companies that American firms cannot trade with unless they have a licence, Google announced that the next version of Android may not be available on Huawei devices. Future Huawei devices may no longer have apps such as YouTube and Maps.
  • The top gainers on the JSE on Monday were Liberty Holdings and Harmony, up around 3% by the end of trading.
  • On Monday, the rand was trading at just over 14 to the US dollar, and 16 to the Euro, while R18 could get you one Pound.