Flash Briefing: Inflation rises; Eskom has to be saved; Steinhoff seeks extension; Zuma allies go Parly; MultiChoice’s African expansion

By Linda van Tilburg

In today’s Biznews Flash Briefing:

  • Inflation is up slightly in May rising to 4.5% mainly driven by a 3.3% rise in fuel prices. There has also been an uptick in the prices of food and beverages. Maize meal increased by 11.4% between January and May. Inflation is 0.1% higher than in April according to Statistics South Africa. It is still in the mid-point of the Reserve Bank’s target range of between 3 and 6%.
  • South Africa simply has to rescue Eskom, even though it can’t afford to. That is the opinion of Bloomberg. President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce more measures to support the cash-strapped utility in his Speech of the Nation Address tonight. Even a dead Eskom is not enough to deter investors. Eskom 2028 bonds have handed bondholders a whopping 22.3% return this year, more than the debt of any other emerging-market utility and almost three times the average for developing-nation hard-currency bonds. Its other dollar bonds are also among the best performers in the 130-member Bloomberg Barclays EM USD utilities sub-index.
  • Steinhoff International Holdings is seeking another extension to restructure almost $12bn of debt as it strives to keep shop doors open and increase the value of some of its assets. It will probably miss a 30 June deadline for agreeing a debt deal. The company posted a loss of almost R20bn for the year ending September 2018. While the company reduced its loss by 70% to €1.2bn that wasn’t enough to appease investors. Steinhoff shares slumped by 11% in Frankfurt extending the losses to 97% since the scandal broke and on the JSE Steinhoff shares slumped by more than 8% today.
  • The JSE all share index was slightly down today. The Rand weakened for the first time in a week. It was trading at R14.53 at the close of day. Major movers up were Dischem and Aspen by more than 4%, while RCL Foods shares dropped by more than 6% and Vukile by 5%.
  • In a blow to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to clean up the government a number of Zuma allies have been nominated for top posts in portfolio committees in Parliament. The names announced by ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule include: the controversial former mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane as head of the transportation committee, Joe Maswanganyi, the former transportation minister will chair the important finance committee, Sfiso Buthelezi will head the budget appropriations committee and Faith Muthambi the former communications minister is proposed as chair of the co-operative governance committee while Supra Mahumapelo the former North West premier has been put forward as chairman of the tourism committee.
  • MultiChoice now has more user on the African continent, than inside South Africa after its Rest of Africa business grew by 12% adding another 1.6 million subscribers. The South African business has added 500,000 subscribers. The group’s generated revenue of over R50bn represents a 6% rise.