Fidentia curators coin it, widows weep; EU braces for hard Brexit; Discovery, Blue Label, Resilient

By Jackie Cameron

  • It was another rough day on the JSE for medical scheme provider Discovery, which lost 8%, and Aspen, which shed more than 4%. Some analysts are baffled about the volatility around Discovery. The National Health Insurance bill has hammered healthcare-related stocks, but Discovery issued a statement via Sens on Friday saying: “Importantly, we do not envisage any material impact on the medical scheme administration business of Discovery Health for the foreseeable future. The roll out of the NHI is expected to take place over an extended period, and will be constrained by the current fiscal position. In addition, as noted above, the Bill remains open to interpretation regarding its impact on medical schemes, and we expect medical schemes to continue operating alongside the NHI. We also think that once fully emerged, the NHI will create additional opportunities for medical schemes to innovate in their products and for the development of new health insurance products outside of the medical scheme environment.”
  • Blue Label Telecoms took a knock, losing more than 3% of its value after announcing a delay in the release of its financial results. It expects to produce figures that will disappoint investors, when it eventually posts its results. It said: “A further trading statement will be issued as soon as there is a reasonable degree of certainty as to the likely range within which the Company’s basic, headline and core headline earnings per share which are expected to decrease.” Its May results will only be released at the end of next month.
  • Real Estate Investment Trust Resilient, which owns about 30 shopping centres around South Africa, moved up nearly 5% following the release of its financial results and a dividend increase of about 3% (on Friday). Total revenue for the period was recorded at R3.8bn (2018: R3.9bn), and profit before net finance costs turned around to R5.9bn (2018: loss of R2.7bn), reports Reuters.
  • More than a decade after the Fidentia group was placed in curatorship, investors have recovered only a quarter of the R1,3bn in claims, reports Netwerk24. The curators made millions wrapping up the affairs of the company that squandered mineworkers’ savings for widows and orphans. The Fidentia scandal involved a massive financial services company raiding funds allocated to widows and orphans in the 2000s. Fidentia had plush headquarters in Cape Town’s Century City and financial services professionals were queuing to join the company known for its extravagant perks. Heading the operation was J. Arthur Brown, a former lawn salesman, and wiley accountant Graham Maddock. There were others who knew they were playing with other people’s cash, including Brown’s wife, who set up a pole-dancing operation in a Cape Town building bought specially for her company, Facets. This week it emerged that the sale of Facets contributed to the final amounts paid out to those owed money by Fidentia. Astonishingly, the building fetched only a fraction of what it cost to pay the individuals tasked with wrapping up the affairs. You can find out more about that at BizNews.com.
  • The European Commission said on Monday that the EU was ready for a no-deal Brexit and that Britain would suffer most under such a scenario, reports Reuters. Speaking at a regular daily briefing, Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said a no-deal UK exit would never be the EU’s preferred scenario, adding that the Brussels-based executive saw no need for additional contingency preparations at this stage. “This will obviously cause significant disruption both for citizens and for businesses and this will have a serious negative economic impact,” Bertaud said of any abrupt split. “That would be proportionally much greater in the United Kingdom than it would be in the EU 27 states.”