Growthpoint vacancies knocked by Covid; Momentum profit slump; Ecsponent; Zondo

By Claire Badenhorst

  • South Africa’s biggest listed property group Growthpoint published a bleak set of results for the year to end-June. The hard lockdown in South Africa took a significant toll on its properties and vacancies jumped almost 10% over the past year. According to the group, its retail business was the most severely impacted and office vacancies rose by more than 15% as office tenants moved to a work-from-home scenario. “Historically the V&A Waterfront has been a standout performer for Growthpoint,” the group reported in its audited results. “However, given its strong reliance on tourism and heavy weighting to the retail and restaurant trade, it has suffered disproportionately to the rest of the South African portfolio.” The value of the group’s SA properties fell R7.1bn.
  • Also battling the fallout from Covid-19 is Momentum Metropolitan, which suffered a 58% fall in its headline profit in the year to end-June. The company says it continues to bear the brunt of policy lapses, withdrawals, claims and additional expenses relating to the virus. In August, Momentum warned shareholders of a possible 65% profit slump and it has now confirmed a loss of R251m for the second half of the year.
  • Ecsponent‘s board of directors announced on Tuesday that it has instituted another forensic investigation into suspected misappropriation of investments dating back to 2018. The latest probe relates to the group’s R100m investment in VSS Financial Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Frankfurt-listed MyBucks. This is the second investigation the company has announced this month as it attempts to make sense of R220m in dubious transactions. Ecsponent is yet to name the individuals who are implicated. For the full statement, visit BizNews.com.
  • As the Zondo Commission continues, testimonies from former Eskom executives have lifted the lid on what transpired in 2015 when four senior executives were suspiciously suspended. At the time, the Gupta brothers had won a bid to supply coal to Eskom for R3.7bn but to secure the tender, they first had to rid Eskom of officials who would possibly alert law enforcement agencies to the corruption underway. During his testimony on Wednesday, former chairperson Zola Tsotsi discussed the meeting which took place on 11 March 2015 where it was concluded that four executives would be suspended. Tsotsi said he got the distinct feeling that the events had been orchestrated by someone not present that day. “The first question I asked, ‘where do these names come from because none of you in this meeting know anything about the executives at Eskom’,” he said. “So, immediately I had the sense that there is some external hand that is driving this particular process.”
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