Christo Weise Resigns As Steinhoff Chair

Steinhoff International chairman and largest shareholder, billionaire Christo Wiese, is stepping down from the supervisory board following the accounting scandal that has engulfed the retail giant. The board accepted Wiese’s resignation to resolve questions of conflict of interest, the owner of furniture chains such as Mattress Firm in the US and Conforama in France said in a filing on Thursday. Heather Sonn, a member of the board and its independent subcommittee, will take the role of acting chairwoman.

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DA Suspends De Lille

The federal executive of the DA has decided to suspend City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille from party activities pending the outcome of ongoing investigations into a series of reports and an affidavit containing allegations of maladministration in the city, also asking her to give reasons why she shouldn’t resign as mayor. This comes after the conclusion of an investigation of the allegations by a subcommittee.

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Lungisa Fezile Appointed Standard Bank CEO

Standard Bank has appointed Lungisa Fuzile as CEO for its South African unit. A former director-general within the Treasury, Fuzile will take over from Sim Tshabalala, who has served in the role since 2008. “This appointment follows the recent changes to the group’s executive structure, which resulted in the disbanding of the joint group CEO construct,” Standard Bank Group said in a statement. Ben Kruger stepped down as joint CEO of Standard Bank Group in September, leaving Tshabalala as the sole head of Africa’s biggest bank by assets.

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Zuma, Ministers And Guptas Sued Over Eskom

The Helen Suzman Foundation and Sygnia Asset Management CEO Magda Wierzycka have approached the courts to deal with the capture of Eskom. According to an affidavit filed at the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday, the foundation and Wierzycka want the courts to set upside the “series of unlawful, improper and corrupt” exercises of public power, and to recover all the proceeds lost in order to benefit the fiscus. The application has been brought against 73 respondents including Eskom itself, President Jacob Zuma, Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Eskom executives including Anoj Singh and Brian Molefe and former Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa and Oakbay’s Ronica Ragavan, and both Ajay and Atul Gupta.

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University Fee Increase Capped At 8%

Universities South Africa says it’s decided to cap fees at 8% for the 2018 academic year. Last month President Jacob Zuma released the findings of the Heher Commission, which was tasked with investigating the feasibility of free higher education in South Africa.

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Govt Plans To Raise R4bn From Telkom Share Sale

South Africa is reportedly seeking to raise as much as 4 billion rand ($297 million) from the sale of part of its 39 percent stake in Telkom SA SOC Ltd. to raise funds for the country’s unprofitable state airline and post office

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Currencies: Bitcoin R263,370. Ether R9,843. R/USD13.50 . R/GBP18.10 . R/EUR15.90

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Australia Exchange To Use Blockchain

Australia’s main stock exchange has said it will use blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency bitcoin, to process its equities transactions in a shift touted as a world-first for a major financial institution. The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), the eighth-largest share market in the world, will replace its current system Chess with the distributed ledger technology to manage the clearing and settlement for buying and selling stocks. ASX chief executive Dominic Stevens said the move “will put Australia at the forefront of innovation in financial markets”, in a statement.

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Matsela Koko Wants His Job Back

Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko yesterday claimed the power utility had failed to prove wrongdoing against him and wants to be reinstated to his old job immediately. In his closing submission to the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing Mzungulu Mthombeni, Koko said Eskom had dismally failed to establish a strong case on any of the six charges he faced.

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California Fires Cause Billions Of Damage

Wildfires in California have caused insured losses of more than $3.3 billion, based on claims reported by 15 insurers, and the figure will rise. The number includes claims for 10,016 partial residential losses, 4,712 total residential losses, 728 commercial property losses, and 3,200 personal auto losses. California is the largest U.S. insurance market, where insurers collect about $289 billion in premiums per year. The $3.3 billion total is more than three times the $1.05 billion preliminary estimate. It’s also more than an estimate of $2 billion to $3 billion made last week by Boston-based AIR Worldwide.

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Russia Signs $30bn Nuclear Deal With Egypt

Egypt and Russia have signed a $30bn deal to build North Africa’s first nuclear power plant as the Kremlin moves to expand its influence in the region. The project increases Russia’s economic presence and political influence in the Middle East, already on the rise since Putin intervened in Syria’s war in 2015 and began a more active role in Libya, conflicts where he and El-Sisi see eye to eye. The Cairo visit comes less than two weeks after the countries said they were in talks to use each other’s military air bases.

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Russian Hackers Steal $10 Million From US Banks

A previously unknown ring of Russian-language hackers has stolen as much as $10 million from U.S. and Russian banks in the last 18 months, according to a Moscow-based cyber-security firm that runs the largest computer forensics laboratory in eastern Europe. The MoneyTaker group broke into 20 systems, which includes 15 U.S. lenders, targeting ATMs with “mules” and Russia’s interbank money-transfer system

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Blue Label Telecom’s Acquisition Of 3g Approved

Blue Label has completed its acquisition of 3G Mobile through its subsidiary The Prepaid Company. Blue Label successfully completed the initial acquisition of 47.37% of the issued share capital of 3G Mobile for R900 million in August. It has now received permission to acquire the remaining 52.63% of the issued share capital of 3G Mobile for R1 billion.

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Currencies: Bitcoin RR245,478 . Ether R7,664 . R/USD13.64 . R/GBP18.16 . R/EUR16.05

 

 SASSA And Post Office Sign Deal

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (Sapo) have signed an agreement to ensure social grant beneficiaries continue to receive their payments after Sassa’s contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) ends on March 31, government announced on Sunday. The cost of the five-year plan, will be within the government’s current budget, if not cheaper, according to Sapo CEO Mark Barnes. It entails a hybrid payment model that will provide SA’s 17-million social grant beneficiaries with the choice of four payment channels: Sapo’s Postbank, commercial bank accounts, merchants in large retail shops, or a “second tier” of merchants that includes village banks, general dealers, small retail outlets and spaza shops.

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Bitcoin Futures Trading Begins

Bitcoin landed on Wall Street with a bang. Four hours after the debut of Cboe Global Markets Inc.’s bitcoin futures, the contracts climbed more than 20 percent and triggered two trading halts designed to cool volatility. Dealers said initial volumes exceeded expectations, while traffic on Cboe’s website was so strong that it caused delays and outages. The exchange said all its trading systems were normal. The launch of futures traded on a regulated exchange is a watershed for bitcoin — testing infrastructure that will make it easier for legions of professional traders and mainstream investors to bet on the cryptocurrency’s rise or fall, potentially helping to steer its price. Until now, trading in bitcoin was driven mainly by individual investors who were willing to risk buying on mostly unregulated markets. Some users of those little-policed venues have been targeted by hackers who’ve stolen digital tokens.

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Carl Niehaus Caught In Another Scam

Political spin doctor Carl Niehaus  has been caught in yet another lie — concocting an elaborate scam to convince a businessman he owed money to that his mother had died and he was about to inherit millions. Niehaus owes R4.3-million for rental of two luxury apartments in Sandton —   as well as damage to expensive furnishings and artwork —  unpaid concierge charges and interest. In an audacious bid to avoid legal action, he claimed his mother had died and he would soon receive a generous inheritance, 90% of which would allow him to settle the debt. His mother, Magrietha Niehaus, 88, is in fact alive and living in a home for the elderly in Johannesburg, other Niehaus family members said.

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FSB Demands Steinhoff Exposure Details

Financial Services Board takes the unprecedented step of requesting all financial services providers supply it with details of their exposure to Steinhoff International. The FSB’s move appears to have been prompted by concern expressed by the minister of finance earlier in the last week. In the latest development in the scandal that has rocked SA, the company announced it would set up a board subcommittee to engage with its banks.

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Apple To Buy Shazam

Apple Inc. is close to acquiring Shazam Entertainment Ltd., the startup whose music recognition app is already built into Apple’s Siri virtual assistant, according to a person familiar with the discussions. A deal for the London-based app maker could be announced as soon as Monday, said the person, who declined to be identified because the details are not yet public. TechCrunch earlier reported the takeover, adding that it could value Shazam at about 300 million pounds ($404 million).

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Social Welfare Director Arrested Over R5m Theft

One of the directors of a social welfare organisation doing business with the Gauteng government has been arrested following the alleged theft of more than R5million meant for the rehabilitation of drug addicts in the province. Nomawethu Kunene, who is a director of Are Ageng Social Services, was arrested in a police trap in Pretoria on Friday following intense police crime intelligence surveillance. The arrest came after a criminal case of theft was reported at the Randfontein police station in November last year, after the owner of Are Ageng made a report to senior officials of the Gauteng Department of Social Development that their bank account was hacked and an amount of more than R5m had been stolen.

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SA Banks Could Freeze Exiled Zimbabweans Accounts

After months of uncertainty surrounding their stay in South Africa as their permits neared expiry, thousands of Zimbabwean nationals in the country are now contending with threats by local banks to freeze their accounts by end of the month when the permits elapse. Some 250 000 holders of the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP), who are among millions that have fled economic and political crises to the neighbouring South Africa, are in panic mode as none of the new permits would be issued by December 31.

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Youtuber Made $16.5Million This Year

You may not see Daniel Middleton walking down a red carpet, but he is a celebrity in a league of his own. With nearly 17 million followers, a world tour that included four sold-out nights at the Sydney Opera House and over 11 billion views on YouTube, gamer DanTDM, as he is known to his fans, ranks as the world’s highest-paid YouTube star of 2017 with $16.5 million—the highest came of any YouTube star since Forbes started keeping track in 2015. The rising stars on YouTube may spend most of their time in pixelated worlds, but make no mistake, they’re collecting millions of dollars in cold, hard cash. For the first time, nearly half of those on our annual list are gamers. Viewers flock to their channels to watch them play the latest titles while delivering pithy commentary. Six of the 10 celebs on the ranking are newcomers, who entertain with videos of stunts, children unwrapping toys and, in DanTDM’s case, Minecraft streams. Combined, the world’s 10 highest-paid YouTube stars earned $127 million between June 1, 2016 and June 1, 2017, before management fees and taxes.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R248,949. Ether R6,906. R/USD13.65 . R/GBP18.24 . R/EUR16.07

Gigaba Wants Steinhoff & Auditors Investigated

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba has reacted with  “concern” to the recent revelations on Steinhoff International’s accounting irregularities. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) will be conducting an internal audit into the holdings company and is expected to report its findings to Gigaba. Gigaba said he had requested the Financial Services Board, Public Investment Corporation, and the Government Employees Pension Fund to provide him with a report on the extent of exposure for retirement funds. “The minister expects that this report will give assurances that the interests of the shareholders are protected, including their retirement and savings funds,” said Gigaba. Gigaba said he supported the FSB’s independent investigation into possible false and misleading reports in terms of section 81 of the Financial Markets Act, as well as any related abuses regarding Steinhoff.

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Moodys Downgrades Steinhoff

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Steinhoff by four notches to B1, and placed the global retailer’s rating on review for further downgrade. The rating agency said in a statement late on Thursday that it had downgraded the issuer ratings of Steinhoff International Holdings and Steinhoff Investment Holdings, and the senior unsecured notes rating of Steinhoff Europe to B1 from Baa3.

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EOH Shares Tumble 34%

Software and technology company EOH plunged 34.7% on Thursday to close at R45. The free-fall came one day after investigators from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) reportedly searched the home of Keith Keating, a director of three businesses owned by the group, over his involvement in corrupt government contracts. On Wednesday, Daily Maverick reported that Keating was implicated in alleged procurement irregularities in the South African Information and Technology Agency and South African Police Service (SAPS) amounting to about R6.1bn. EOH’s share price has fallen more than 73% over the past year, as questions arose over the way in which the group landed lucrative government contracts.

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General Electric To Shed 12000 Jobs

The US industrial group expects the “painful but necessary” job losses to help save $1bn next year as demand for fossil fuel power plants wanes. GE intends to cut 1,100 jobs from its UK power business, one-third of the firm’s Swiss workforce and one-sixth of German workers are likely to be hit. In October, GE slashed its profits guidance after posting a 5% fall in third-quarter earnings to $1.8bn, due to weak trading in its power and oil and gas businesses. GE Power is the company’s largest industrial business, employing more than 55,000 people worldwide.

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Bitcoin Soars Past $18000

The price of Bitcoin crashed through $19,000 today, just days after hitting $10,000, $12,000, and other psychological barriers, and then retreated to $18,000. Many cryptocurrency experts are predicting Bitcoin will hit $50,000 or even $100,000 as institutional investors continue to pile in.

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SA Egg Prices Rise 20%

Egg prices in South Africa are expected to increase by as much as 20% after an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian flu in June forced farmers to cull egg laying birds, industry experts said on Thursday. The outbreak of avian flu prompted farmers to cull millions of birds and neighbouring countries including Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana to ban poultry imports from South Africa. Industry experts said in October commercial egg production had tumbled 17% and over 1 000 workers lost their jobs in the wake of the outbreak of avian flu. Prices are expected to increase between 15 and 20% from December to June 2018.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R243,000.Ether R6,351 . R/USD13.73 . R/GBP18.46 . R/EUR16.11

R180 Bn Wiped Off JSE After Steinhoff Crash

Investors are shell-shocked after the market witnessed a stunning crash yesterday. Shares in the biggest retailer in Africa, Steinhoff, went into free-fall and fell by more than 61% as the JSE opened – plunging from R45.64 to around R17.50. The company fell even further during the day. This means that more than R130 billion was wiped off the company’s market capitalisation or value in one day. And R180 billion was wiped off all related companies combined.

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Christo Wiese Lost R28bn In A Day

Following Tuesday evening’s announcement that Steinhoff would not be publishing its financial results due to allegations of accounting fraud, South African billionaire and chairman of the company Christo Wiese has seen his net worth halved. Retail tycoon Wiese, who owns 23% of Steinhoff, was named as the fourth richest person in South Africa with a net worth $5.5 billion of according to a January 2017 report by Forbes. This amount was nearly halved on Tuesday as shares in the company dropped to R17.56, a loss of R28.09 or 61.53%, shortly after the JSE opened. According to Forbes’ real-time tracker, Wiese lost $2.1 billion (R28.3 billion) by 11:40AM on Wednesday. This equates to a loss of 54.2% of his total net worth since 5PM EST on Tuesday (midnight local time).

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Bitcoin Soars Past R14000

Bitcoin climbed as much as 7.9% on Thursday as it surged above $14 000, extending this month’s advance to more than 40%. The price of the cryptocurrency touched $14 399.99, a new record, according to Bloomberg pricing

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Mugabe’s Missing $15 Billion Saga

Zimbabwean opposition parties have welcomed a call by Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa for all persons who under Mugabe’s rule, externalised money to return the said monies within three months. Mnangagwa has set the amnesty deadline line to February for the return the ill-gotten wealth with the promise prosecution post deadline. Former Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe previously revealed that the country had “lost” an amount of USD $15 billion in diamond mining revenue. The missing money is believed to have been externalised and squandered by government officials with the aid of dodgy investors.

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New Regulation Structures For Financial Services Sector

At present, South African insurers, pension funds, collective investment schemes and other financial services providers are regulated by the Financial Services Board (FSB), whereas banks are regulated by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). Each institution is required to comply with its own industry-specific legislation. The current Financial Services Board (FSB) will be transformed into the FSCA – responsible for regulating how firms conduct their business, design and price their products and treat their customers. While the Prudential Authority will regulate financial institutions’ solvency and liquidity.

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Tshwane Asks Treasury For Help

Tshwane city manager Moeketsi Mosola has approached National Treasury to help draft a financial recovery plan that might see it restructuring income and expenditure in its current approved budget. Tshwane’s creditors amount to R6.9 billion and include service providers such as Eskom, Rand Water and many small businesses that are normally dependent on timeous receipt of the payment for the services rendered.

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Currencies: R223,400 . Ether R5,922 . R/USD13.54 . R/GBP18.07 . R/EUR15.97

Koko Claims Eskom Bosses Were Bribed

Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko on Thursday accused some of his colleagues of taking bribes from suppliers and said that they had started leaking damning allegations against him in retaliation when he dealt with corruption. The allegations against him, said Koko, started surfacing when he dealt with corruption on becoming interim CEO. For instance, France Hlakudi, the former Kusile power station project manager, was paid a R61m bribe, Koko said. He produced a document that showed another R400,000 was paid to Hlakudi Interpretation and Translation — owned by Hlakudi — by Tubular Construction Projects on the day that Eskom’s tender committee approved a tender for Tubular. The money was transferred into Hlakudi Interpretation and Translation’s bank account in 2015, said Koko.

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Gigaba Says Ignore Economic Gloom

Speaking in the National Assembly on Thursday during a debate on the Medium Term Budget Policy statement he delivered last month‚ the Finance Minister chose to look on the bright side of life. “South Africans should brush aside the message of despondency and doom. Even at our bleakest moments we must not drown ourselves in our own message of doom and gloom. The difficult decisions are being taken now‚ but our economy will turn around. A brighter day beckons.” he said.

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Taxman Going After US Bitcoin Traders

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has won a US court case which will force Coinbase to disclose customer information. Coinbase must now share the data of users who have bought, sold, sent, or received over $20,000 through their accounts in a single year, between 2013 and 2015. This is estimated to be 14,355 individuals.

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Firstrand To Drop State Capture Implicate Companies

Outgoing FirstRand chairman and cofounder of the group Laurie Dippenaar expressed extreme disappointment on Thursday with “the number of large corporations that have been complicit” in state capture, saying that some would lose FirstRand’s business. Commenting on state capture, he said: “I’ve been bitterly disappointed. We have expressed our disdain and disappointment [to these companies] and some of them will not get business from FirstRand again.

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NPA Panel Convened For Zuma Corruption Charges

Controversial KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions Moipone Noko will lead the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) team that considers President Jacob Zuma’s representations on corruption charges. NPA boss Shaun Abrahams gave Zuma until Thursday to argue why he should not be charged after the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a high court judgment that the 2009 decision to drop charges had been irrational. The president is facing 783 counts of fraud, corruption, racketeering, money laundering and tax evasion.

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Guptas Hijacked Lesotho Mine

In August 2014 Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane appointed Atul Gupta as an “economic investment envoy”. Thabane said ANC president Jacob Zuma had introduced him to the Gupta family and he had enlisted them “to help scout for investment” for the country. Now new evidence is emerging that the main “investment” the Guptas were touting – apart from in Thabane himself – was their takeover of a Lesotho diamond mine.

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PWC Does First Major Commercial Bitcoin Transaction

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), one of the world’s largest accounting firms, has accepted its first ever bitcoin payment for its advisory services. PwC in Hong Kong revealed it is working with a number of startups involved in bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency industry, prompting the firm to accept the world’s most widely-known cryptocurrency. Notably, PwC also confirmed its advent into advising clients about crypto funds and investments, cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings –  a radical new form of fundraising powered by cryptocurrencies.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R156,949 . Ether R6,934 . R/USD13.73 . R/GBP18.54 . R/EUR16.36

DaVinci Painting Sells For Record $450.3m

That was the reaction of mega art dealer Larry Gagosian after a rediscovered painting by Leonardo da Vinci became the most expensive work ever sold, soaring to $450.3m (almost R6.5bn) at a Christie’s auction in New York on Wednesday.

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McKinsey Will Repay Eskom Money

Global consultancy firm McKinsey has set aside the R1bn that Eskom has demanded that it repay and was keen to do so, the head of the firm’s public and social sector practice, David Fine, said on Wednesday. Fine was giving evidence at the inquiry into state capture held by Parliament’s public enterprises portfolio committee. The money was paid for McKinsey’s work on a turnaround plan, but the Treasury had not approved the contract. “McKinsey does not want any tainted money. We went into a relationship with Eskom in good faith,” Fine said.

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Bitcoin Soaring In Zimbabwe After Coup

Demand for Bitcoin in Zimbabwe has surged amid a shortage of hard currency. Golix processed more than $1 million of transactions in the past 30 days, compared with turnover of $100,000 for the whole of 2016, according to data on the exchange’s website. Zimbabwe doesn’t have its own currency, with the government adopting the US dollar and South African rand, among others, as legal tender in 2009 after hyperinflation rendered the local dollar worthless.

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Eskom Set To Make Massive Losses

The low electricity price increase granted by energy regulator Nersa for the 2016/17 financial year, coupled with declining sales volumes, rising costs and debtor payment challenges, are all working to put Eskom’s revenue, cash flow and bottom line under severe pressure. As a result, the Eskom Group profit of R6.38bn for the six-month period ending 30 September 2017 is projected to reflect a loss of some R3.55bn by financial year-end.

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Naspers Hits record High

Tencent sales for the quarter were 65.2 billion yuan ($9.8 billion), compared to analyst expectations for 61 billion yuan. Net income surged 69 percent to 18 billion yuan, also blowing past projections for 15.8 billion yuan. Tencent’s shares closed 1.3 percent lower, before earnings were announced. Naspers Ltd., a major stockholder in the company, climbed as much as 4.1 percent to a record high in Johannesburg.

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MTN To Introduce Biometric Security

Cellphone service MTN has announced it is today introducing “an industry-first biometric system” to protect its customers against ID theft. The biometrics will be used to authenticate the identity of post-paid subscribers when they undertake a range of transactions‚ including applying for a new contract or an additional SIM‚ performing an upgrade or SIM swap and loading of chargeable value added services.

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Currencies : Bitcoin – R112,999 . Rand/USD 14.39 . Rand/GBP 18.91 . Rand/EUR 16.94