World of finance mourns fallen icon

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A portrait of the late Nelson Mandela stands in St George's Cathedral in Cape Town. Mandela passed away at the age of 95 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg. Picture: Leon Lestrade

Johannesburg - The money-spinning wheels halted for a while on Friday as news of Nelson Mandela’s death spread across the world.

The world’s biggest stock exchange, New York Stock Exchange, paid respect with a minute of silence. The JSE halted trading for five minutes after 11am.

South African banks also announced that they would close head offices, branches and other premises on the day of Mandela’s burial, the Banking Association of SA said at the weekend.

On the day of Mandela’s burial, Sunday, December 15, South African banks will communicate with their customers on closures and provide necessary support to ensure access to basic services. Banks will also support staff who may want to attend memorials.

JSE chief executive Nicky Newton-King said Mandela’s global statesmanship made him one of the most revered leaders the world had known.

“His attention to all he met, combined with his ability to listen and to understand those on the other side, were just a few of the reasons that so many people in the world today have been influenced by him, including some who were his former adversaries.”

The chairman of the JSE, Humphrey Borkum, recalled several visits to the exchange by the former president.

“I was privileged to meet with Mr Mandela on several occasions, both when the exchange was in downtown Johannesburg and later, when it moved to Sandton. In each case he would take time to greet and share a moment with those around him.”

Borkum added that there were not many occasions that trading activity would simply halt on the JSE’s old open outcry floor.

The director of government and international affairs at the JSE, Geoff Rothschild, believes there has not been another leader of Mandela’s stature in South Africa or in the world.

“Mr Mandela was an inspiration to everyone. He placed a huge importance on education, both for his personal growth, even when on Robben Island, and as a path to a better life for other South Africans,” said Rothschild.

Both global and local businesses pledged to honour the icon. Taking note of Mandela’s wish to build a children’s hospital, Citi, a leading global bank, donated R2.1 million towards the hospital project.

The chief country officer for Citi in South Africa, Donna Oosthuyse, said: “The world has lost a true hero and stalwart for human rights and dignity. President Mandela’s passing is deeply saddening for the world as a whole and all of us at Citi mourn his loss.”

Oosthuyse said Mandela was responsible for Citi being able to return to South Africa after the apartheid regime.

As a gesture during the mourning period, Continental Outdoor Media will show its respect by wrapping black “arm bands” around every upright on every billboard along William Nicol Drive, from Sandton to Fourways.

The national carrier, SAA, said it would provide flights for mourners wishing to attend Mandela’s funeral in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. It said the service would be provided to those invited to the funeral and would also cover their return journeys. The ferrying of mourners would neither replace nor disrupt its normal flights to the Eastern Cape. - Business Report

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