Ninety One invests in SA corporate Covid-19 victims; Standard Bank directors’ blacklist; Netcare; Mediclinic

By Jackie Cameron

  • Children in South Africa began returning to classrooms on Monday as part of a gradual loosening of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions even as some parents worried not enough had been done to protect the health of pupils. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said at the weekend that 95% of South Africa’s primary and secondary schools were now able to host classes, and the biggest teachers union dropped its resistance to the reopening.
  • Ninety One is raising a recovery fund to invest in South African companies struggling with the economic fallout from the spread of coronavirus. The firm is targeting R10bn ($595m) and will market the fund to institutional investors in South Africa, according to a statement from the firm. The Ninety One SA Recovery Fund will invest in public and private equity as well as debt, with an investment horizon of at least 18 months. “The lockdown, while necessary to protect the nation’s health, has been akin to putting the economy into an induced coma,” Hendrik du Toit, Ninety One’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “South Africa faces a once-in-a-generation economic challenge.” Ninety One has identified companies that it knows well to make investments in, du Toit said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “We don’t want to go and put money into losers just to buy very expensive jobs.” The investment is more important in emerging economies like South Africa, where there is less fiscal support from government, he said. Ninety One, which manages assets of about $130 billion, is raising the fund with Ethos Private Equity.
  • Shareholder and environmental activists have written to investors of Africa’s biggest bank by assets, Standard Bank Group Ltd., asking that they vote against the re-election of seven non-executive directors with ties to fossil-fuel companies, reports Bloomberg. The letter, prepared by Cape Town-based Just Share and co-signed by 14 other groups, including BankTrack of the Netherlands and France’s Reclaim Finance, comes as South African banks face increasing pressure to follow international trends and take more action on climate-related issues. The directors objected to by the groups are: Gesina Kennealy, who also serves as a non-executive director at oil and chemicals company Sasol; Nomgando Matyumza, who is a non-executive director at Sasol; Priscillah Mabelane, who in September is set to join Sasol as executive vice president of its energy business. She also serves on the board of Shell and BP South African Petroleum Refineries, and is deputy chairwoman of the South African Petroleum Industry Association Board of Governors. Until June 1, she was chief executive officer of BP Southern Africa; Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, lead director at coal company Exxaro Resources; Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita, CEO of Ichor Coal NV; Jacko Maree, Standard Bank’s deputy chairman, serves as a non-executive director at Phembani Group, which has investments in coal companies; andLubin Wang, who represents Standard Bank’s biggest shareholder, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which finances fossil fuel projects. Together, the directors represent about two-fifths of Standard Bank’s board. The lender’s AGM will be held on June 26.
  • South African hospital operators were expected to benefit from increased demand for health care services during the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, they have ended up suffering, according to Old Mutual Wealth Private Client Securities. An index of South African health care companies has dropped 6.6% this year, with Netcare down 25%, Life Healthcare dropping 24%, and Mediclinic falling 17%.
  • South African telecoms firm MTN faces new allegations of aiding militant groups in Afghanistan, including paying protection money, in an amended lawsuit filed on behalf of hundreds of families of US soldiers. The original lawsuit was aimed at least eight multinational companies – including MTN, security firm G4S, US infrastructure group Louis Berger and consultancy Janus Global – that operated in Afghanistan and Iran between 2009 and 2017. For more on that, you can read an in-depth feature by our partner The Wall Street Journal in the BizNews Premium section.