Flash Briefing: Land Bank loses lifeline; Ascendis speaks on Ivermax; KZN leaders lose Covid-19 battle

By Melani Nathan

  • The Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa has been battling to repay its debt since a drought caused many of its customers to default on their loans. As part of a recovery plan, the lender proposed that National Treasury partially guarantee new notes it will issue as part of a restructuring. The Land Bank announced this week that the plan was rejected by the finance ministry and the guarantee withdrawn. “There is now an elevated risk that this latest action may impact the ability of other state-owned entities to raise funding,” said Olga Constantatos, the head of credit at Futuregrowth Asset Management, which owns Land Bank debt. Constantatos added that it may have credit ratings implications.
  • Ascendis Health has distanced itself from reports that its animal health product Ivermax which contains Ivermectin, is a so-called “miracle cure” for Covid-19. Whilst Ivermectin is being promoted as an affordable and effective antidote to Covid-19 the South African Health Products Authority has not authorised it as a treatment for Covid-19.
  • Covid-19 has claimed the life of the Catholic Church’s archbishop coadjutor of the archdiocese of Durban, Abel Gabuza, according to the Sunday Times. Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban, made the announcement. Gabuza died at Hillcrest Hospital on Sunday morning after a week in ICU battling the virus. KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport, Bheki Ntuli has also lost his life due to complications relating to Covid-19. Premiere Sihle Zikalala announced that the MEC had passed away on Saturday afternoon in a Durban hospital. 14,880 new cases of the virus were confirmed on Friday.
  • South African stocks retreated from a record on Friday as shares in miners tumbled the most in a month, with metals prices falling amid doubts regarding the approval of a US stimulus package. The benchmark FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index dropped 0.5% from Thursday’s all-time high. The sector gauge lost 1.5% in its sharpest descent since December 18. The mining index had risen more that 10% in January, buoyed by optimism that President-elect Joe Biden’s long-awaited relief package will help economies recover. On Friday focus turned to how much of the proposal will ultimately be approved by lawmakers in Washington. Local traders were also digesting news that the reopening of schools will be delayed by two weeks and gauging the effect of national rotational power cuts. Declining stocks outnumbered gainers by 79 to 58 in Friday’s session.
  • Gold closed the week at R27856.49 an ounce.

Read also: Inside Covid-19: Will you be fired if you refuse vaccine? Can your employer insist? Legal insights

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