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JOHANNESBURG - Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMH) yesterday said that while the South African economy was expected to recover moderately this year and next year due to higher commodity prices, growth would be constrained if so-called structural imbalances were not addressed.

The company said the structural imbalances that needed to be addressed included high-profile corporate failures as well as critical water shortages in various parts of the country.

“The South African economy has already experienced a positive impact as a result of the improved domestic political environment, most notably in the strengthening in the local currency and improved business confidence,” the company said.

“That, together with the broad-based upturn in the global economy, has improved the prospects for gross domestic product (GDP) growth. However, a number of major hurdles still remain.”

In the six months ended December 31, RMH’s normalised earnings increased 7percent to R4.2billion, while normalised earnings per share rose from 275.4cents per share to 295.2c. RMH increased market capitalisation - the total market value of all of a company’s outstanding shares - by 19percent from R93.7bn to R111.8bn.

In the six months, RMH increased its interim dividend by 10percent from 153c per share to 168c per share. Net asset value per share, company’s total assets minus its total liabilities, increased 8percent to 3022.4cents a share.

RMH’s main interest is its 34percent investment in JSE-listed FirstRand, which on Tuesday reported a 7percent increase in earnings.

Momentum SP Reid analyst Brian Mugabe said yesterday that, following Tuesday’s release of FirstRand’s interim results, RMH’s numbers did not come as a surprise. “We knew what to expect based on the performance of FirstRand. RMH’s property business is still relatively small,” said Mugabe.

RMH’s shares closed 0.18percent lower at R44.72 on the JSE yesterday.