Flash Briefing: SABC faces blackout; SAA pilots strike-ready; JSE probes Deloitte, Sygnia; Has Musk dumped Twitter?

By Jackie Cameron

In today’s Biznews Flash Briefing:

  • The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is in serious trouble and faces a blackout. The financial position of the SABC has been worsening as it awaits a decision on its application for a R3.2bn financial support from the government, reports Fin24. Chief Financial Officer, Yolandi van Biljon, reportedly said in a television interview the SABC has a debt of over R1bn due to creditors, and has to play a fine balancing act between its various priorities.  “It’s been like that for the last eight to nine months,” she reportedly said. Van Biljon said that paying staff salaries is a priority.
  • At SAA, another state-owned entity that has sucked up billions of taxpayers’ money, pilots are threatening to strike over what they believe is a poor choice of CEO. SAA needs about R10bn to prop it up, while its bosses try to salvage the airline, says Bloomberg. SAA has been poorly managed, with significant damage inflicted on the airline when Dudu Myeni, a close friend of former president Jacob Zuma, was at the helm. Its newest CEO, say pilots, does not have the financial acumen to successfully run a national airline. Zukisa Ramasia, a former general manager of operations at the airline was appointed acting CEO on June 7, following the resignation of Vuyani Jarana.
  • The Johannesburg Stock Exchange has waded into the divorce between accounting firm Deloitte and financial services group Sygnia. Sygnia is headed by entrepreneur Magda Wierzycka, who has taken a firm stand against state capture and corrupt corporates. Sygnia axed KPMG as its auditor after KPMG failed to convince Wierzcyka that it was innocent of wrongdoing in its activities with Gupta entities. KPMG was found to have watched as the Gupta family got taxpayers to pay for a lavish wedding in Sun City in 2013 and also closed its eyes to tax dodging. Deloitte was auditor to multinational retailer Steinhoff, which is in deep trouble after hiding financial irregularities for years. Deloitte was also auditor to multinational sugar group Tongaat Hulett, which is looking like another Steinhoff. The latter has been teetering on the brink of collapse since late 2017. Sygnia’s decision to part ways with the audit firm was taken at a board meeting on May 21. “The directors of Sygnia took the decision to look for alternative external auditors given our unsatisfactory engagement with Deloitte and reputational risk associated with the firm,” Sygnia said. But, Deloitte jumped before it was pushed, and took exception to the perception that it was axed.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims to have “just deleted” his Twitter account. He made his statement in a tweet, but the account still appeared to be active after the post. South Africa born global tech pioneer Elon Musk has been in hot water in connection with his Tweets, including some allegedly designed to manipulate investors. Controversial Tweets have included calling a British diver involved in the rescue of a children’s football team from a Thai cave complex paedophile and saying he was thinking of taking Tesla private, sending its shares soaring, says the television station. CNN Business reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the US Securities and Exchange Commission have apparently made nice again after a months-long standoff. “Musk and federal regulators on Friday agreed to amend a settlement deal approved last October that required oversight of Musk’s social media use. The updated deal outlines a slew of topics Musk cannot tweet about until he obtains pre-approval from an “experienced securities lawyer”,” it said April.
  • On the currency markets, at the end of the public holiday the Rand was trading at about R14.78 to the US dollar, about R18.57 to the British pound and about R16.60 to the Euro.