Flash Briefing: PSA wants out of Eskom bonds; $4.5m for lunch with Buffett; SAA CEO quits; Boxing’s mega-brand KO’d

By Alec Hogg

Here’s your Biznews Flash Briefing:

  • The chief executive of South African Airways, Vuyani Jarana has quit, citing a critical dearth of funding and the government’s lack of support for the airline’s turnaround plan. Eighteen months ago, Jarana was drafted in from Vodacom where he had been a highly rated member of the executive team. In his resignation letter sent to SAA chairman JB Magwaza, Jarana wrote: “Lack of commitment to fund SAA is systematically undermining the implementation of the strategy, making it increasingly difficult to succeed.” Minister for Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan told Bloomberg last night that SAA’s board is dealing with the resignation. In November last year, Gordhan’s cabinet colleague Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said SAA, which has cost taxpayers billions and has not made a profit since 2011, should be shut down.
  • The 240 000-strong Public Servants Association wants to get its members money out of Eskom debt. The PSA, whose members contribute the most of any group that injects funds managed by South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation, says it no longer wants its members’ money invested into Eskom bonds. The PSA’s deputy GM Tahir Maepa told Bloomberg yesterday: “The PIC needs to get out of Eskom. So long as they have the PIC as a piggy bank, they will never be able to sustain themselves and run like a business. Eskom should be a business and not rely on bailouts from pensioners’ money.” The PSA, whose top executive and two other labour leaders are set to be appointed to the directorate of the PIC, said buying Eskom bonds is exposing pensioners to excessive risk. The PIC’s practices are currently the subject of a commission of inquiry, headed by Judge Lex Mpati, following a succession of scandals.
  • An anonymous Warren Buffett fan will pay just over $4.5m to have lunch with his hero. The successful bidder in a charity auction held over the weekend, paid $100,000 more than the previous record, and $1m above 2017’s winning bid. The winner, who has asked not to be named, is entitled to invite up to seven friends to lunch with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York. The lunch is the highlight of an annual fund-raising auction for Buffett’s late first wife Susie’s favourite charity, Glide, which provides free meals and healthcare to homeless and low-income people in San Francisco. The auction began in the year 2000 and among the previous successful bidders was money manager Ted Weschler, who was subsequently hired by Berkshire to run part of his company’s $180bn investment portfolio.
  • In sport, while Liverpool fans were celebrating their club’s victory in the world’s richest competition on Saturday, later that evening the multi-million pound franchise of previously undefeated boxing champion Anthony Joshua took a hiding. In New York on Saturday night, the six-foot-six giant was knocked out in the seventh round by Andy Ruiz, a six-foot-two no-hoper with a roly-poly physique. The victory by the 12-1 underdog is being described as one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. After being knocked down in the second round, Ruiz came back strongly to floor the former champion twice in the third round. The referee was forced to stop the fight in the seventh round after a dazed Joshua was twice put on the canvas. Ruiz a flabby son of Mexican immigrants who had won 32 of his previous 33 fights but was regarded as a notch below the best level, was a late replacement after Joshua’s original opponent tested positive for banned substances. Joshua, a Brit, won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2012 and went into the fight as the holder of the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts. He has a rematch clause in the contract which experts say is almost certain to be enforced. Joshua had been lining up for a mega-fight with the undefeated WBC champion Deontay Wilder.