Eskom will implement Stage 1 loadshedding on Wednesday between 5pm and 10pm, the power utility said.]]> |||
Johannesburg - Eskom will implement Stage 1 loadshedding on Wednesday between 5pm and 10pm, the power utility said.
“The power system is currently constrained and under pressure because of a shortage of generating capacity as some of our power stations’ units are currently on maintenance,” Eskom said.
“Eskom would like to assure customers that load shedding is implemented as a necessary measure to protect the power system and to ensure that maintenance is carried out in order to guarantee that our supply of electricity can be maintained in the long term.”
On Wednesday morning, Eskom said that the electricity grid was stable and said that it would be able to possible to perform maintenance without implementing loadshedding.
However, the power utility warned at the time that due to increased electricity demand in the evening and power stations’ units being on maintenance, the power system was expected to be constrained during the evening peak period (5pm- 9pm).
The utility urged electricity users to consider energy efficient ways of keeping warm, as the country was experiencing cold weather conditions.
Ceppwawu has alleges Mildred Oliphant is guilty of political interference in the fight for the union to be put under administration.]]> |||
Johannesburg - The Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) has alleged the minister of labour, Mildred Oliphant, is guilty of political interference in the fight for the union to be put under administration.
Last week Oliphant dismissed the department’s Registrar of Labour, Johan Crouse, who was in the process of a court bid for the union to be put under administration due to its failure to submit financial statements to the department for several years.
Dissident leaders of Ceppwawu had joined the department in this court bid, and are now demanding Crouse’s immediate reinstatement.
The matter is meant to be heard on August 6. but it is believed the minister’s dismissal of Crouse is part of a larger project that has also involved instructing state attorneys to stop pursuing the matter.
The leaders of four Ceppwawu-regions also alleged Cosatu’s top leadership, led by president Sdumo Dlamini, are acting in cahoots with the union’s controversial general secretary, Simon Mofokeng’s.
The leaders charge Mofokeng has failed to hold a national congress in four years, and recently prevented dissenting Ceppwawu-members from attending the Cosatu's special national congress earlier this month.
Ceppwawu is not the first union to be rent down the middle over poor accountability, including failure to share financial statements with dissenting leaders and members.
European equities advanced on Wednesday, spurred by strong corporate earnings and stabler Chinese markets.]]> |||
London - European equities advanced on Wednesday, spurred by strong corporate earnings and stabler Chinese markets, although moves were cautious in most financial assets before a policy decision from the US Federal Reserve.
The rise in Europe and most Asian markets overnight looked set to extend to US markets where stock index futures pointed to Wall Street edging up 0.2 percent.
Pledges from Chinese regulators to buy shares to stabilise stocks if needed and hints of more policy easing from the central bank helped soothe sentiment.
Against the calmer backdrop in financial markets, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.8 percent after carmaker Peugeot reported first-half net income for the first time in four years. Oil major Total posted higher-than-expected second-quarter profits.
“The results from European companies have been reasonably reassuring so far, although China is impacting a few of them,” Mirabaud Securities' senior equity sales trader John Plassard said.
In Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 percent.
Investors are also focused on the outcome of the Fed's two-day policy meeting, with markets divided on whether it will take a hawkish or dovish stance, while some suspect it might chose to do neither. No move on rates is expected this week.
In recent congressional testimony, Fed Chair Janet Yellen neither ruled out a September interest rate hike nor guided the market toward thinking it was a done deal.
The improved investor appetite for risk lifted US and benchmark euro zone 10-year bond yields though the moves were modest before the Fed decision.
In currency markets, investors seemed to decide it was safer not to be actively short of the U.S. dollar ahead of the policy statement due at 18.00 GMT. The dollar was flat against the euro at $1.1056 and up 0.1 percent at 123.71 yen. The moves were well within recent ranges in low trading volumes.
“In the near term there is caution caused by investor wariness in chasing any trends given we have the FOMC meeting ending today,” Societe Generale FX strategist Alvin Tan said.
“If the Fed continues to be relatively neutral in its tone by not dropping any hints of an imminent rate hike probably markets will continue to stabilise,” he said.
In energy markets, oil prices fell for a sixth day as concerns over global oversupply outweighed the impact of a what is likely to be a larger-than-expected draw on US crude stocks.
Brent futures were down 21 cents at $53.09 a barrel and near their lowest since February. US crude for September delivery slipped 26 cents to $47.72 a barrel.
The local jobless rate drops from 26.4 percent to 25% in the second quarter thanks to the state and construction.]]> |||
Pretoria - South Africa’s unemployment rate declined to 25 percent in the second quarter as the government and the construction industry added more workers.
The jobless rate fell from 26.4 percent in the previous three months, Statistics South Africa said in a report released on Wednesday in the capital, Pretoria. The median estimate of seven economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 26.5 percent. The number of people without jobs decreased by 305 000 to 5.23 million.
Africa’s second-largest economy has struggled to boost employment since a 2009 recession and has the highest jobless rate of 65 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg.
Falling commodity prices and rising wage demands are curbing work opportunities, with at least seven listed mining companies announcing plans in the past two months to cut as many as 10 000 jobs.
“We expect South Africa’s unemployment rate to remain persistently high in the absence of any meaningful improvement in the economy and productivity,” Jeffrey Schultz, an economist at BNP Paribas Cadiz Securities in Johannesburg, said in an e-mailed note to clients before the data was released.
Economic growth will probably accelerate to 2 percent this year, according to the government, from 1.5 percent in 2014, the slowest since the recession.
The number of people employed in community and social services, which includes the government, increased by 98,000 to 3.55 million. That makes it the biggest employer by industry. The construction sector added 79 000 workers, while the finance industry and manufacturing lost 31 000 jobs and 23 000 positions respectively.
South Africa’s unemployment rate will remain above 25 percent “unless major policy changes are implemented,” the International Monetary Fund said last month.
Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in October 2013 that the state would curb hiring to rein in surging staff costs. After the recession, the government started increasing spending and employment to boost growth.
The unemployment rate is compiled from a household survey covering the formal and informal industries.
Curro backs down from its R6 billion offer to buy out Advtech, a bid that would have created a private education giant in SA.]]> |||
Johannesburg - Curro has backed down from its R6 billion offer to buy out Advtech, a bid that would have created a private education giant in SA.
In a statement to shareholders this afternoon, the private education company - which has previously come under fire for racially segregating school children - said it was withdrawing its cautionary announcement.
The two companies have been locked in a heated battle over Curro’s R13 and shares offer for Advtech, which Advtech had initially spurned without taking the bid to shareholders.
Yesterday, about half of Advtech’s shareholders rejected the unsolicited bid, arguing it would interfere with a R3 billion expansion plan on the cards.
AdvTech chairman Chris Boulle and CEO Frank Thompson reiterated Curro had not made an offer to be taken seriously by shareholders but had instead made a “scheme of arrangements”, a legal format that requires the Advtech board to first approve the terms of the proposals and then propose this to its own shareholders.
According to Thompson, Advtech’s two biggest shareholders, Coronation Fund Managers and Kagiso Holdings, which favoured the Curro deal, were overwhelmingly outvoted by other shareholders and had “voted against various resolutions at the AGM”.
“The AdvTech board and shareholders applied their minds to this approach and we decided we would not be putting the matter to shareholders. Curro is free to make an offer to shareholders,” Thompson said, leaving the possibility of a hostile takeover open.
However, Curro has now said its bid was no longer on the table after expiring at 5pm last night.
It says in a statement that it had negotiated in good faith believing that the two companies could create a new sizeable mid-cap company with benefits to all stakeholders. “A belief that we thought was shared by Advtech management.”
In a swipe at Advtech and parents who had been concerned by Curro’s tainted past after it was accused of racially segregating children, Curro said it and Advtech’s management had agreed “upfront” that Advtech’s ethos, values and brands would be retained.
However, Thompson has said there were many reasons for rejecting Curro’s proposal.
These included concerns about the company’s reputation and brands, differences in culture of the two companies and whether Curro could continue to fund AdvTech’s growth plans, Boulle said.
Curro also hinted to its shareholders that all was not as it seemed with Advtech’s books. It noted its offer was conditional on a limited due diligence investigation because of Advtech’s “complex” operating model. It also noted Advtech’s financial reporting needs to be unpacked for Curro to fully understand its underlying business models as well as performance.
“It made several acquisitions that only became effective after 1 January 2015 and therefore have not been satisfactorily disclosed in the publicly available financial information.”
In addition, Curro said it was led to believe that some of Advtech schools operate under lease agreements which could have a significant negative impact on a school business in the future, information it says was not sufficiently reported on in Advtech's financials.
However, Boulle has said Curro’s unacceptable pre-conditions of the scheme of arrangement would have prevented Advtech from following its R3 billion growth strategy for up to a year by preventing Advtech from raising new capital or making acquisitions.
“AdvTech would be hobbled, Curro would get a competitor’s commercially confidential information and could continue with its own expansion strategy,” Boulle said.
A battle to create a $1.5 billion private education giant in SA exposes tensions over race and ethnicity 20 year after apartheid ended.]]> |||
Johannesburg - A takeover battle to create a $1.5 billion private education giant in South Africa is pitting shareholders against parents and exposing tensions over race, language and ethnicity two decades after the end of apartheid.
Although education stirs emotions in any country, it is particularly true in South Africa, where access to schooling and the language of tuition were used for decades as tools of oppression by the white-minority government that ended in 1994.
However, since then a failure to turn round the state system has convinced millions of parents - of all races - to go private, creating fertile ground for school companies such as Curro Holdings.
The firm, 52 percent-owned by investment company PSG Group , has seen its share price rise seven-fold since its 2011 float as it has tapped into growing demand for affordable private schools. It plans to double its campuses to 80 by 2020.
Based in the conservative and largely Afrikaans-speaking university town of Stellenbosch, PSG has enjoyed huge success by betting on high-growth companies challenging entrenched actors in the post-apartheid economy.
Its biggest play is Capitec, a financial upstart whose inroads against South Africa's four big banks have elicited comparisons with US investor Warren Buffett for PSG chairman Jannie Mouton, often referred to as the “Boere Buffett” in Afrikaans newspapers.
However, PSG's latest venture - an attempted takeover by Curro of upmarket schools rival Advtech, a Johannesburg-based company run by English-speaking South Africans - is not generating such glowing headlines.
Advtech's board last week rejected Curro's R6 billion ($480 million) buyout bid, saying it was not in the interest of the company, parents or children attending top-end schools such as Crawford College and Trinityhouse.
At an Advtech AGM this week, two parents said they would pull their children out of Advtech schools in the event of a takeover, driven by concerns Curro might tamper with Advtech's ethos, including its approach to racial integration.
At the top of their minds were two recent incidents in which Curro teachers were accused of segregating children along racial lines - breaching all the ideals of the egalitarian 'Rainbow Nation' espoused by Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
In one instance, a Curro school principal near Pretoria was dismissed after a video appearing to show children being separated according to race on a field trip.
Contacted by Reuters for this story, a spokesman for Curro said the incidents were isolated and that racial segregation is not part of its ethos. He also said the company stood by statements made at the time saying that the splits were made along practical, linguistic lines.
But the footage of mostly white, Afrikaans-speaking children being separated from their mostly black, English-speaking friends struck a nerve, including with the government.
Some Advtech parents are worried.
“It concerns us greatly. Curro has only received negative publicity,” said Audrey Gray, a parent at one of Advtech's Trinityhouse schools.
Underscoring the depth of the challenge to Curro's bid, Advtech chief executive Frank Thompson told the meeting his “non-shareholding stakeholders” - a clear reference to Advtech's parent body - would want a powerful say in any takeover.
He also said his company was in discussions with other investors and companies interested in “partnership”.
Curro, which has made a R13 per share cash and share offer, remained adamant that it would not tinker with schools in Advtech's portfolio.
“From an acquirer's perspective, it would be absolutely silly to pay a premium and then change the brands or ethos of the business you are acquiring,” said Johan Holtzhausen, one of PSG's in-house advisers. “We indicated this to Mr Thompson and the Advtech board from day one,” he told Reuters.
At stake is more than just classrooms in South Africa.
Advtech touted the opening of its first school in neighbouring Botswana this year as the start of a push into a continent of a billion people with a growing middle-class ready to splash out on education.
In his overtures to Advtech, Curro chief executive Chris van der Merwe echoed such sentiments, with references to a united “continental champion” in the field of schooling.
But first the two sides must square their domestic differences, some of which are seated in the corporate and social divisions that remain in post-apartheid South Africa.
Even though his two largest shareholders, Coronation and Kagiso Asset Management, who together hold more than a third of shares, back the deal, Advtech boss Thompson described relations with Curro as “hostile” and “a blend of cultures that I think is problematic”.
Update: Post publication Curro told shareholders its bid had expired and they no longer needed to be cautious when trading shares.]]>
Compass Group, the world's biggest catering firm, says operating profit this year and next would be hit by restructuring costs.]]> |||
London - Britain's Compass Group, the world's biggest catering firm, said operating profit this year and next would be hit by restructuring costs as it looks to offset weakness in its offshore and remote business and in Australia, Brazil and Turkey.
Compass, which serves around 3 billion meals a year, said on Wednesday the restructuring plan would hit operating profit by around 20 to 25 million pounds ($31-39 million) in 2015 and 2016 and that this year's full-year operating margin would be flat.
CE Richard Cousins said the company had decided to restructure its business after demand for its catering services fell in Brazil and Turkey due to challenging economic and political conditions.
Its offshore and remote business, which provides catering to the oil and gas and commodities sectors, had also seen a fall in demand due to a global slowdown in the market.
“It is that global trend that we are seeing in offshore and remote and specific trends in some emerging markets like Brazil and Turkey that is encouraging us to do some modest restructuring,” Cousins told Reuters.
“We are taking the cost head-on, on the chin in this financial year and next. It's not massive but we just felt it was better to deal with the issues,” he added.
The company warned that currency translations would negatively affect its 2014 reported revenue by 154 million pounds and underlying operating profit by 6 million pounds.
Shares in the firm fell more than 4 percent in early trade, the biggest drop on the FTSE 100 Index.
“Structural growth opportunities, driven by outsourcing continue to be promising and Compass has a resilient, cash generative business model,” Numis analysts said in a note.
“Whilst concerns about emerging markets and potential currency headwinds persist, however, it is difficult to see a near-term catalyst for the shares,” they added.
The group reported organic revenue growth of 5.1 percent for the third quarter to June 30, helped by strong net new business in its core North American business and an acceleration of growth in its Europe and Japan region.
Barclays Africa expects continental growth to slip to 5.1% from 5.3% as commodity prices impact underlying finances.]]> |||
Barclays Africa Group said on Wednesday that headline earnings for the rest of Africa were up 22 percent to R1.2 billion in the six months to June, while in South Africa this measure grew by 8 percent to R5.5 billion.
The financial services group said revenue for the period had increased by 6 percent to R32.4 billion, as net interest income increased 7 percent and non-interest income rose 4 percent.
Headline earnings per ordinary share came in at 797.6 cents, up from 720.9 cents in the corresponding period a year ago, and a dividend of 450 cents was declared, representing a 13 percent increase on the 400 cents last time.
In a statement the bank pointed to the potential of further protracted electricity supply constraints being a key risk for South Africa.
Saying that it expected full-year global growth of 3.3% this year, the bank added that it expected full-year growth in South Africa of “just 2 percent”.
The statement added: “In Barclays Africa’s other markets, we expect growth to slip to 5.1% from 5.3% as many of the economies need to tighten fiscal and monetary policy and commodity prices impact underlying finances.”
The Mail & Guardian’s Zimbabwe outlet, Alpha Media Holdings, has let more than 30 employees go.]]> |||
Harare - The Mail & Guardian’s Zimbabwe outlet, Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) - publishers of NewsDay, Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard – has served letters of contract termination to more than 30 employees using a controversial recent Supreme Court ruling.
Zimbabwean investor Trevor Ncube owns about 77.69 percent of M&G and about 60 percent in AMH. In Zimbabwe, he also owns Multi-Strand Printers and Munn Marketing, distributors of the newspaper.
The Supreme Court two weeks ago ruled employers could terminate workers’ contracts with three-months notice rather than go the retrenchment and packages route.
Sources at AMH said 18 inserters were handed their letters on Tuesday morning, while several others in the editorial department were handed theirs later after lunch.
“There was panic when the letters started flying around. Everyone was confused and you could see it in the staffers’ eyes that everyone was afraid they would go home, worse when the economy is so tight,” a source said.
“Editorial guys started receiving letters a little after lunch and the contract terminations are with immediate effect. So far, about four have been handed the letters yet it’s said the number should reach 11 in editorial.”
NewsDay sports editor Wellington Toni was said to be the biggest casualty in the editorial department, with a sub editor, a proof reader, a news reporter also falling victim to the axe.
“What is happening is that most of those being served the letters have records in their files. Some were sitting on final warnings, while others had their issues as well,” the source added.
More were said to face the chop Wednesday, especially those from Munn Marketing.
About two years ago, AMH retrenched close to 200 workers in a staff rationalisation exercise and wanted to add 70 more.
Two weeks ago, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe - publishers of Daily News and Weekend Post – sacked eight reporters and three sub editors using the Supreme Court ruling.
Capital & Counties Properties says its two key assets, Earls Court and Covent Garden, made a positive start to the year.]]> |||
Johannesburg - London property company Capital & Counties Properties says its two key assets, Earls Court and Covent Garden, made a positive start to the year.
In its results commentary, released today, the company’s CEO Ian Hawksworth notes its two London estates have had a positive and active start to the year. “Covent Garden is established as a leading destination for global brands wishing to come to London and demand for the estate across all uses is strong.”
Hawksworth adds the company is on track to deliver 10 percent underlying annualised rental growth.
Capital & Counties, which has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange, employs more than 300 people. Its total assets are worth around R66 billion.
Hawksworth adds its plans at Earls Court continue to advance as its investment vehicle is finalised and demolition is progressing well. At Lillie Square, construction of phase one is on track and it is finalising plans to begin sales of phase two, he adds.
“We enter the second half of the year with a strong balance sheet and a clear strategy to drive long-term value creation for our shareholders."
During the interim period, its property value gained 9 percent as it added around R78 million in value. The company has proposed an interim dividend of 0.5 pence, or almost R10, per share.
At Covent Garden, the company grew demand and saw new leases and rentals gain 11%, and it spent about R980 million on consolidating its ownership on Henrietta Street and Bedford Street.
The cash flush company also has a low debt ratio, it noted.
However, in the six months to June, the JSE-listed company reported a 4 percent total return on its net asset value, compared to a 25% return at the end of the 2014 year. In addition, its figures show a 9 percent total property return for the interim period, down from 22 percent at year end.