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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Zuma Must Personally Pay Legal Costs

Jacob Zuma has been held personally liable for all costs incurred in his bid to block the release of the Public Protector’s ‘State Of Capture’ report. The DA’s James Selfe said, after speaking to the DA’s legal team, that the approximate costs of the litigation since October 14, 2016 would be around R1.5-million. But Zuma will also be liable for costs incurred by other parties as well.

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Zuma Given 30 Days To Set Up Inquiry

President Jacob Zuma was ordered by the high court on Wednesday to set up a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture headed by a judge selected by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. For the second time in less than a week, the High Court in Pretoria found that Zuma could not effectively exercise his powers as head of state due to personal conflict of interest. It said the president was so conflicted that he was unable to fulfil his constitutional duties.

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IRBA Receives Steinhoff Fraud Notice

The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba) has confirmed that a notice of a reportable irregularity has been filed with it in the last week regarding suspicions of fraud in relation to the accounts of Steinhoff. This is notable because a reportable irregularity (IR) is filed by an auditor of a company in the event where an “unlawful act or omission” committed by an executive in charge of an entity that has caused, or will cause “material financial loss” to the company, including other providers of capital.

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17 New Shopping Malls In SA This Year

A new study published by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Real Estate South Africa on behalf of the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), has found that local malls are getting bigger. The data indicates that the average size of centres developed have steadily increased in size since the 1990s, with centres slated for completion between 2017 and 2020 being significantly larger than those developed during the 1990s and 2000s. As of July 2017, the South African retail development pipeline measures 1.9 million square metres across 68 centres – the bulk of which is planned for completion in 2018. Currently, there are 17 shopping centres slated for completion in the remaining weeks of 2017.

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US Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates one notch higher as the U.S. economy continues to get healthier. The rate hike, which was widely expected, was the third this year. Policy makers pointed to the lower number of unemployed workers, increased spending by households, and bigger investments by businesses in recent quarters.

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Alibaba To Sign Deals With NBC And Sony

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s video streaming service, Youku Tudou, has signed content licensing deals with NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Television, marking a deeper foray into entertainment for the Chinese e-commerce giant. The multiyear agreements gives Youku subscribers access to hundreds of films from the studios, the service said Thursday in a statement. Users will also have faster access to new and recently released movies, including “Blade Runner 2049”

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SARS Wants To Track CryptoCurrency Earnings

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) is in discussions with some of the top technology companies in the world to enable it to track cryptocurrency trades more efficiently. Interest in cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, has risen significantly, but since the environment is fairly opaque, regulators around the world are still struggling to formulate a plan to deal with it. The exponential rise in the price of bitcoin in particular poses a threat to Sars’ revenue collection efforts as it is largely dependent on traders’ own truthful declaration of profits. Financial institutions like banks are required to supply Sars with information on the investments of their clients for verification purposes, but in a crypto environment where such information is lacking, Sars may have to trust that a taxpayer made honest declarations with regard to crypto gains.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R263,799 . R11,854 . Rd/USD13.47 . R/GBP18.06 . R/EUR15.92 

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

Mandela Funeral Fraud Report Expected Today

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela announced in 2016 that her office was investigating allegations of maladministration, corruption and misuse of public funds relating to the procurement of service providers for the former statesman’s memorial services and funeral. Various Eastern Cape municipalities allegedly spent nearly R65m without following proper procurement procedures. A report in May 2016 revealed that R22m was used for T-shirts, food and transport. The full report is set to be released today.

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FIFA Struggling For World Cup Sponsors

Teams from 32 countries learned Friday who they will play at the soccer showcase, but with just six months until kick off, FIFA is struggling to find companies that are willing to spend millions of dollars on ads and logo placement. Brands have been scared off by the 2015 corruption scandal that ensnared top FIFA officials, including former general secretary Joseph “Sepp” Blatter. Political controversies involving Russia, sanctioned in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea and accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election, haven’t helped.

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Eskom Says Loadshedding Is Unlikely

On Thursday investigative news outfit AmaBhungane reported Eskom may be forced into nationwide electricity cuts after a coal mine linked to the Gupta family threatened to halt supply. Eskom has been at the heart of allegations of illegal contracts and undue influence in awarding tenders to the Gupta family, friends of South African President Jacob Zuma. Spokesman Khulu Phasiwe confirmed Eskom had held an emergency meeting last Friday to determine whether strategic coal stockpiles at Hendrina and other stations were sufficient after Tegeta Exploration and Resources threatened to halt supply to Hendrina.

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Gauteng To Build Five Mega Cities

Gauteng is currently undergoing massive infrastructure development with over a R100 billion being invested in more than 800,000 houses within 30 residential developments, across five designated development corridors. According to the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements’ (GDHS), these developments form part of a new mandate to shift away from sporadic and uncoordinated developments to purposely planned and developed “Mega Cities” that are completely self-sufficient in providing for the housing, economic and social needs of the community.

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Germany Offering Migrants Money To GO Back Home

Germany wants to support rejected asylum-seekers who voluntarily move back to their home countries with a one-time payment of 3,000 euros ($3,570). The Interior Ministry says those who qualify can apply by a Feb. 28 deadline and they would get the money once they return home. Migrants who agree to go back even before their asylum request is rejected have already been offered 1,200 euros per adult and 600 euros per child under a different program for almost a year. They are now eligible to apply for both programs.

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AdvTech Fraud Drops Share Price

Private education group ADvTECH’s share price dropped by 7.06% on the JSE after the group said on Friday it had uncovered incidents of fraud in the schools division. ADvTECH shares closed 3.99% lower on the JSE at the end of the day at R15.65. The group said that the fraud was perpetrated by a financial manager in the schools division head office and took place over a period of three years, beginning in 2015.

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MTN Launches Data Saver Option

MTN has launched a simple way for subscribers to block out-of-bundle (OOB) data usage, with its new “Out of Bundle Barring” service. Out of Bundle Barring is available to users via the USSD menu, by dialing *141*0# and selecting the relevent option.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R170,013 . Ether R6,942 . R/USD13.78 . R/GBP18.51 . R/EUR16.35

 

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

Military Coup In Zimbabwe

Soldiers deployed across the Zimbabwe capital Harare and seized the state broadcaster on Wednesday after 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu (PF) party accused the head of the military of treason, prompting frenzied speculation of a coup. Since then, the army has taken control of the national broadcaster, arrested senior politicians and those in Mugabe’s inner circle and former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa has returned to the country.

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Eskom Employees Reveal Lynn Browne Lies

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown came under scathing attack on Tuesday from an Eskom GM, who accused her of being incompetent, a liar and captured by the Guptas.

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Water Departments R30Million Bonuses

Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane has admitted that her department paid out R30-million worth of bonuses to its employees‚ despite the department being found wanting in the management of its financial books. In a reply to a written question from Democratic Alliance MP Anchen Dreyer‚ Mokonyane said 1.5% of the total provision for salaries was allocated towards performance reviews. She said 1‚959 officials between salary levels 1 and 12 got the bulk of the R30-million in performance bonuses. Two officials in salary levels 13 and 14 got a bonus of R58‚092.82 and R69‚069.60 respectively.

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Senior Eskom Boss Resigns Over State Corruption Allegations

France Hlakudi, a senior manager at the centre of allegations of corruption at Eskom’s Kusile power station in Mpumalanga, has resigned with immediate effect, Eskom confirmed yesterday. Eskom said Hlakudi resigned on Monday, leaving the troubled power utility under a cloud. His resignation could have far reaching implications for suspended executive Matshela Koko’s ongoing disciplinary process as he is one of the witnesses the power utility has lined up. As a former employee, he has no obligation to participate in the hearings.

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SA Debt Soars

National Treasury had no trouble selling a record amount of debt at its weekly fixed-rate auction on Tuesday. The sale attracted bids of R10.9bn for the R3.3bn of notes of four maturities, with clearing yields on all four bonds jumping. Securities maturing in 2044 were the most popular, with demand of four times the amount on offer. The clearing yield of 10.405%, however, was 46 basis points higher than when the notes were last sold on October 17.

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Application To have SA Express Liquidated Withdrawn

The threat of state-owned airline SA Express being liquidated has been removed as the complainant‚ Solenta Aviation‚ has withdrawn its application for liquidation. Instead SA Express and Solenta have agreed to deal with their dispute by means of arbitration. Solenta brought the application in the Gauteng High Court in June with SA Express giving notice that it would oppose it. The application arose from the non-payment by SAExpress of monies allegedly owed to Solenta.

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Currencies : Bitcoin R106,772 . Rand/USD 14.38 . Rand/GBP 18.89 . Rand/EUR 16.99