South African investment firm RMB Holdings (RMH) said on Tuesday it planned to distribute among shareholders its stake in lender FirstRand , worth about 130 billion rand ($8.8 billion), as part of a restructuring, Reuters reported. RMH has an almost three-decade history of investing in financial services, and FirstRand was born out of the group. It is the bank’s largest shareholder with a 34% stake. RMH’s largest investor, Remgro Ltd, has an almost 4% stake in FirstRand.
Steinhoff International said on Monday its Australasian subsidiary Greenlit Brands sold its general merchandise division to Allegro Funds, as the South African retailer grapples with the fallout of an accounting scandal worth about $7 billion, Reuters reported. Steinhoff had said in August its only way to survive was to slim down and sell its assets. “The sale of Greenlit Brands General Merchandise division is a further step in Steinhoff’s programme of planned divestments,” Louis du Preez, Steinhoff Group CEO said.
South Africa’s government has appointed packaging firm chief executive Andre de Ruyter as the new head of Eskom and tasked him with restructuring the heavily indebted state utility whose power plants are struggling to keep the nation’s lights on, Reuters reported. Investor worries about South Africa’s economy have been reignited after repeated power cuts in February and March dragged growth into negative territory in the first quarter. The Ministry of Public Enterprises said de Ruyter, chief executive of Nampak, would start at Eskom on Jan.
Steinhoff International has sold its UK furniture retailing business to Alteri Investors’ new retail fund as it strives to cut debt, the Financial Times reported. The stores Bensons for Beds, Harveys Furniture and upholstery and bedding manufacturers Relyon have been owned by the troubled South African conglomerate since 2005 but have struggled recently as UK consumers turn more cautious about big-ticket items. In the year to September 2017, the last period for which accounts are available, Bensons and Harveys made a combined operating loss of £28m on sales of £566m.
The South African government signaled it’s going to take a hardline approach to its cash-strapped national airline as labor unions prepared to strike over pay and job cuts, forcing the carrier to cancel almost all its flights over the next two days, Bloomberg News reported. “If some tough decisions need to be made, we’ll make them,” Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a speech at a conference in New York Thursday.
South Africa’s post office is cutting several hundred jobs, the second state-owned company in as many days to detail plans to lay off workers as the government looks to slash its wage bill, Bloomberg News reported. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni signaled last month he’s intent on lowering the government’s payroll costs, which consume 35% of national spending. The cuts are part of a plan to defend the nation’s last remaining investment-grade credit rating, which has a negative outlook.
Telkom SA SOC Ltd. offered to buy Cell C Pty Ltd. and combine South Africa’s two smallest mobile network operators to better compete against larger rivals, according to people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported. The bid includes a plan to reduce Cell C’s debt and renegotiate contracts with suppliers, the people said, asking not to be identified because negotiations are ongoing. Telkom wants to take over the management of Cell C’s business, they said. The approach comes as Cell C explores options with MTN Group Ltd.
South African Airways, the beleaguered state-owned airline that’s reliant on government financial support to continue operating, has started a restructuring process that could see its workforce cut by almost a fifth, Bloomberg News reported. As required by South African law, the carrier has started talks with labor unions about its plans, which could affect 944 of its 5,149 employees, SAA said in an emailed statement. The proposed restructuring includes all SAA divisions and departments, excluding its Mango Airlines, Air Chefs and SAA Technical units, it said.
Some investors are getting out of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. dollar bonds amid concern South Africa is taking too long to implement a turnaround plan and explain what it will do about the utility’s $30 billion of debt, Yahoo Finance reported. Yields on the struggling power company’s dollar bonds due 2025 climbed to a one-month high on Wednesday, even though the government’s 138 billion rand ($9.3 billion) bailout has bought it some time to reorganize its finances.
Cities across South Africa are due to host parades for the country’s rugby team in coming days, following last weekend’s emphatic victory in the World Cup final in Japan. In financial markets, too, there were scenes of celebration on Monday after Moody’s elected not to downgrade the country’s debt to junk, the Financial Times reported.