đź”’ Alec Hogg: 24 questions for Cyril Ramaphosa

The share prices of Naspers and Prosus registered double digit percentage gains yesterday, lifting the spirits of heavily invested South Africans. Built this is unlikely to spark a turnaround after the hammering of recent weeks.

For one thing, yesterday’s jump relied at least partly on support from the $10bn Naspers/Prosus share buyback programme. Their underlying asset, Hong Kong-listed Tencent, only rose half as much yesterday and it is down again in Hong Kong this morning. For another, investors everywhere are becoming increasingly concerned at vulnerability of the officially “illegal” VIE structure which facilitates all investments into Chinese companies – including the Naspers/Prosus stake in Tencent.

All this is well-articulated in our republished story from the Financial Times of London. It is also worth noting Beijing has started nationalising privately owned schools – of which there are 190 000 – on a directive their share be at least halved from their current market share of over 10%. The abrupt overhaul of China’s education system is being done without compensation for the school owners – highlighting the risk of what South Africa’s EWC legislation would introduce here.
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The Chinese business sector’s biggest foreign supporter, Softbank, has taken fright at Beijing’s attacks on capitalists. When releasing its results in Tokyo last night, Softbank founder Masayoshi Son said the driver of the $100bn Vision Fund has frozen future investments into China. Also in the WSJ today is a piece explaining how Chinese bonds are also reacting badly to Beijing’s new approach, while the paper also explains why China is now Softbank’s biggest problem.

In SA, there will be much attention on president Cyril Ramaphosa’s return to the Zondo Commission this morning. The official opposition will be there in full force, with an intention of further exposing the impact of the ANC’s destructive cadre deployment policies. The DA today issued a list of 24 questions it says need to be answered by Ramaphosa – here’s the link to download the document.

On a lighter note, the WSJ today unpacks the departure of the world’s best soccer player from the club he joined as a 13 year old. Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi’s defection from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain says as much about how power is moving from capital to talent as it does of cash-flush, sports-mad Qatar’s sporting ambitions. Fascinating.

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