NATIONAL NEWS - Here’s what caught our attention on Wednesday:
Eskom’s chairman, Jabu Mabuza and public enterprises minister, Pravin Gordhan are expected to brief the media on Wednesday. This comes after the nation suffered stage 4 rotational power cuts last month. Gordhan and Mabuza are expected to provide an update on the power system and the prospect of more load shedding; a risk which is dampening South Africa’s investor sentiment.
Sanlam and Saham deal dispute
South Africa insurer, Sanlam’s R15.5 billion takeover of Moroccan-based Saham Finances has come to a political and territorial dispute. Bloomberg is reporting that Moroccan billionaire Othman Benjelloun is speaking out against the acquisition, saying ‘South Africa has chosen the wrong side in a territorial dispute’. He says he does not appreciate South Africa’s political support for the Polisaro Front – a territory fighting for self-determination – adding that his stance will change on the acquisition when South Africa changes its stance on the Western Sahara territory.
PIC inquiry sees Iqbal Surve on the stand
The owner of Independent Media, Iqbal Surve made his first appearance at the PIC Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday, where he said that Sekunjalo Investments, of which he is executive chairman, made an offer to the PIC to take over its exposure to Independent Media. According to Moneyweb, the PIC initially invested R1 billion for a 25% stake in the company, but Independent Media had repaid R150 million, thus reducing the PIC’s investment to R850 million. The offer was however rejected for ‘political reasons’. Surve is expected to return to the stand on Wednesday.
Standard Bank PMI
Standard Bank’s purchasing manager’s index for March is expected to be released on Wednesday. In February, the PMI increased to 50.2 from 49.6 in January. According to Trading Economics, the reading in February pointed to the first expansion in private sector activity in eight months, adding that output stabilised, but new orders continued to fall, albeit at a smaller rate than previously recorded. Absa’s PMI released on Monday fell for the third consecutive month to 45.0 points on the back of slow business activity due to power cuts and lower new sales orders.
Prasa’s big problems
State-owned passenger rail services, Prasa’s operations have come under the spotlight over the past few weeks after the president was found stranded when one of the trains he was on stopped. Prasa’s chair Khanyisile Kweyama said that the passenger rail service fails to fulfil its primary mandate. According to Moneyweb, on average 13% of all scheduled trains are cancelled and a massive 68% of trains operated on any given day are running late. The average delay during 2018 was 30 minutes. Only 50% of the trains running are full train sets with a minimum of 12 coaches each. These woes are in addition to ongoing vandalism, damage and theft to the train services.