Allan Gray shake-up; SAA; Astron Energy Cape Town deaths; SA account surplus

By Jackie Cameron

  • There’s been a shake-up at Allan Gray, South Africa’s largest privately owned asset manager, starting with a new Chief Investment Officer. Duncan Artus takes over from Andrew Lapping will be leaving Allan Gray, and asset management, towards the end of this year.  There are other appointments, with new equity and fixed interest fund managers and some individuals redeployed in the firm. Financial advisors have criticised the Allan Gray’s investment performance in recent years.
  • SAA has been a significant drain on state coffers, requiring billions of rands of bail-outs, but the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) says shutting South African Airways will cause severe hardship for its employees. The government department is pushing for business rescue rather than liquidation. SAA has been a significant drain on state coffers, requiring billions of rands of taxpayer-funded bail-outs. African countries have lost almost $55bn in travel and tourism revenues in three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, and some airlines are not likely to survive, says the African Union, according to Reuters.
  • South Africa recorded its first current account surplus in 17 years in the first quarter of 2020 as the trade balance more than doubled, central bank data showed on Thursday. Reuters reports that the current account swung to a surplus of 1.3% of gross domestic product, or R69.7bn ($4.12bn), in January-March from a deficit of 1.3% of GDP or R68bn in the previous three months. The last recorded surplus was in the first quarter of 2003. The current account is the part of a country’s balance of payments that shows transactions of goods and services with the rest of the world, as well as primary and secondary income. South Africa shut down much of its economy at the end of March in one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns. That will have affected imports and exports at the start of the second quarter, says the news agency.
  • Two people were killed on Thursday in an explosion at Glencore-owned Astron Energy’s 100,000 barrel per day refinery in Cape Town, the company said as it promised a full investigation. The Milnerton plant, which was restarting after undergoing extended maintenance, was shut down after the fire, says Reuters.
  • Tesla has overtaken Toyota as the world’s most valuable automaker. Shares of Tesla, which have more than doubled since the start of the year, climbed as much as 3.5% in intraday trading Wednesday, giving it a market capitalisation of $207.2bn, surpassing Toyota’s $201.9bn, says Bloomberg.
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