Massmart closes Dion-Wired; Rhodium boosts platinum producers; Tesla soars

By Jackie Cameron 

  • In a blow for employment creation, Massmart is to shut down stores and chop jobs as it shores up its finances. Hundreds of jobs are under threat at Massmart Holdings Ltd, which has started consulting with unions about store closures. The South African unit of Walmart has been battling to recover from an earnings slump, reports Bloomberg. The plan is to close the 23-store Dion-Wired chain of hi-tech appliance shops and 11 Masscash wholesale outlets. About 1,500 employees are likely to be affected, says the news service.
  • Rhodium, the world’s most precious metal, is soaring – which is good news for SA platinum producers. Rhodium – mainly used in autocatalysts and five times more costly than gold – surged 31% already this month, touching the highest since 2008, says Bloomberg. Higher rhodium prices are good news for South African producers, which account for more than 80% of global output. Gains in platinum-group metals and a weak rand helped a stock index for the nation’s miners to triple in the past year, reaching the highest since 2011.
  • Zim looks set to pay its debts to embattled Eskom. Zimbabwe’s state electricity utility is in talks with the African Export–Import Bank to help clear $70m of arrears it owes power producers in neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique, says Bloomberg. Zesa Holdings needs to repay the debt to avoid having supplies shut off. It owes money to South Africa.
  • Nigerian power problems mirror SA electricity woes. Power producers in Nigeria are owed at least $2.7bn by a state-owned company that buys their output and resells it, threatening their viability, says Bloomberg. Only 60% of residents of Africa’s most populous country have access to electricity and even those who do are plagued by regular outages, reports Bloomberg.
  • Tesla soars, as analysts get excited about Elon Musk’s electric car business. Tesla Inc. shares rose above $500 for the first time on Monday as Wall Street analysts played catch-up with the electric-vehicle maker’s share price, which has doubled from October, according to Bloomberg. Tesla shares have been on a strong upward trend after the company reported a surprise profit for the third quarter, which was followed by some improvement in overall analyst sentiment on the company, with the final push coming from the strong delivery numbers early this month, says the news agency. The stock has gained 20% so far this year and about 44% over the past 12 months, it adds.