SA hunts for new Auditor-General; Standard Bank; Massmart; Sasol; SAA; Airbnb

By Nadim Nyker

  • Standard Bank expects a revenue decline in the second half of the year. This comes as its first-half earnings dropped 44% as the lender increased provisions for doubtful debts as a result of  the coronavirus pandemic. However, SA Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago says the banking system is well capitalised, noting the Reserve Bank is ready to pump in funds into the sector should there be a need.
  • Makro and Game owner Massmart says it expects headline losses for the first half of the year to be up to 41% lower than last year. Still, this is a slight improvement from the over 50% decline projected in June. The slight boost has been attributed to lighter lockdown restrictions which came into effect during that month. The group anticipates around a R1bn headline loss. This extends from a loss of R800m recorded in 2019.
  • Parliament on Thursday started interviewing candidates to find the next Auditor-General. Six candidates were interviewed by Parliament’s ad hoc committee, established to find a replacement for Kimi Makwetu. Makwetu’s term ends in November and is not renewable. Eight candidates have been shortlisted in total but two have withdrawn.
  • South African Airways may have a future after all. The troubled airline which needs R10bn to resume operations has seen interest from private investors. A team from the Department of Public Enterprises began negotiations after receiving as many as four promising proposals for the airline, according to Kgathatso Tlhakudi, the DPE’s director general. The state ideally wants SAA to resume operations by the end of the year.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Airbnb has confidentially filed paperwork to go public. This marks a surprising turnaround for a company whose business was initially ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. The company which earned $4.8bn last year made a net loss for the first nine months of 2019 compared to the previous year. When the pandemic struck earlier this year, the company found itself in the crosshairs of angry hosts, who saw their earnings evaporate as Airbnb refunded guests.
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