South Africa

After loosing 53 cars during xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2019, Johannesburg car dealership owner Okey Uchendu never thought he would see his business destroyed again by civil unrest in less than two years. Already dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, Uchendu received a call at midnight on Sunday that his dealership was engulfed in flames as looting and violence, the worst in South Africa for years, escalated, wrecking hundreds of businesses, Reuters reported.

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Steinhoff International Holdings NV may soon release a revised proposal to resolve more than $8 billion of legal claims against the retailer after a previous deal recently fell through, Bloomberg News reported. The company “is considering its options” after a South African court ruled on July 2 that the deal related to debt refinancing was void. Steinhoff still believes that “a global settlement is in the interest of all parties,” and will “strive to achieve one,” a spokesman said on Wednesday. This is expected to include a revised offer to be made shortly.
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The Cajee brothers, who ran a cryptocurrency investment platform from South Africa that the local regulator suspects of being a Ponzi scheme, are confounding both their family and desperate investors alike, Bloomberg News reported. It’s still hard to establish the whereabouts of Ameer and Raees Cajee, the pair that operated Johannesburg-based Africrypt since 2019. They appear to have vanished, along with an estimated $3.6 billion in Bitcoin -- an amount that a lawyer for the brothers said was inflated.
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South Africa agreed to sell a majority stake in the country’s grounded national carrier to a local jet-leasing company and private-equity firm, ridding the government of an entity that has long been a drain on state finances, Bloomberg News reported. A consortium comprised of Johannesburg-based Global Airways, which owns recently launched domestic airline Lift, and private-equity firm Harith General Partners will take a 51% shareholding in South African Airways, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Friday. The government will retain a minority stake.
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South Africa’s government is set to announce that it has found a strategic equity partner for state-owned carrier South African Airways, Bloomberg News reported. Details of the announcement are expected on Friday morning. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was scheduled to brief the media on the matter Thursday, before postponing to the following day. The expected announcement comes about six weeks after the airline emerged from lengthy bankruptcy proceedings, having reduced its workforce by almost 80% and cut liabilities.
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South Africa’s official unemployment rate rose to a new high in the first quarter as the construction and trade industries shed jobs, Bloomberg News reported. The jobless rate rose to 32.6% from 32.5% in the three months through December, Statistics South Africa said Tuesday in a report released in the capital, Pretoria. That’s the highest number on record. Unemployment according to the expanded definition, which includes people who were available for work but not looking for a job, rose to 43.2% from 42.6% the previous quarter.
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Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the beleaguered South African state power utility, reduced its debt by almost a fifth after repaying matured loans and benefiting from a more favorable exchange rate, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said, Bloomberg News reported. Debt fell to 401 billion rand ($29 billion) at the end of March, from 484 billion rand a year earlier, Gordhan said in a webcast speech to lawmakers on Tuesday. The utility has yet to release its financial results for the year.
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Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said the South African state utility is unable to agree to certain union demands over wage increases and declined to make an offer on basic salary until labor groups respond, Bloomberg News reported. The loss-making electricity provider “cannot afford” proposals such as an improvement in pay inequality, according to a May 4 letter reviewed by Bloomberg. A request by unions to raise worker housing allowance has “no justification” and the required funds aren’t available in any case, the company said.
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South Africa's struggling national airline South African Airways (SAA) on Friday exited a local form of bankruptcy protection called business rescue after roughly 17 months, Reuters reported. SAA was placed under administration in December 2019, and its long-standing financial woes worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. All operations were mothballed in September 2020. Its administrators said in a statement that they had filed a notice of "substantial implementation" of a business rescue plan with South Africa's Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.
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Mango Airlines, the low-cost arm of state-owned South African Airways, was forced to suspend all flights after missing payments to the country’s airports regulator, Bloomberg reported. The carrier is barred from taking off or landing at any Airports Company South Africa site, which includes the main hubs in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The grounding is an indication of the deteriorating financial position at Mango. The company has been hit by the coronavirus crisis that’s hammered the airline industry, forcing bailouts and pushing some carriers into insolvency.

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