(171116) -- HARARE, Nov. 16, 2017 (Xinhua) -- An armed vehicle is seen in the city center of Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 16, 2017. Calm and peace have been urged for Zimbabwe where the military announced on Wednesday that it has taken control of all government institutions in the southern African country. (Xinhua/Stringer) (zjy)
JOHANNESBURG - Investec said yesterday that a more stable government in Zimbabwe would be welcome news for the South African economy as it released its results for the six months to September, which shrugged off political uncertainty in both the UK and South Africa.

The group’s profits leaped 11.8percent to £314.6million (R5.87billion). The group said its good showing in the period was also supported by the appreciation of the rand in the period.

Stephen Koseff, the chief executive of Investec, said yesterday that he expected a bumpy road ahead, depending on geopolitical issues and that the company had produced a good set of results in a “tricky world”.

“Both geographies we work in are going through a difficult period. However, our geographical and operational diversity supports a strong recurring income base and earnings which will help us weather an uncertain world.”

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“We have Brexit in the UK, which is very hard to work out how that is going. And in South Africa we have the ruling party going into an electoral conference in December hopefully with a reasonable outcome that will bring some positive impact in our environment,” Koseff said.

The main operations of the firm are based in South Africa and the UK, both of which are undergoing political ructions at the moment. Political uncertainty in South Africa has come to the fore in recent months as the polarising build-up to the ANC elective conference takes its toll on business confidence.

The company warned in September that business confidence was low and that the political environment was challenging in its South African operations.

Investec said its liquidity position was strong in the period with £10.7billion in cash and near cash balances at the end of the period under review.

The firm also saw £3.6bn inflows into its wealth and asset management arms in the period, with “favourable equity markets” also boosting performance.

The company said its results were also boosted by the Specialist Banking business in South Africa, which benefited from growth in the private banking franchise and a good performance from the corporate treasury and corporate advisory businesses.

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The group’s total operating income increased 13.2percent to £1.19bn in the period, from £1.05bn in the comparative period. The company’s net interest income surged 16percent from £314m in the comparative period to £364.4m.

The group attributed the rise in net interest income to sound levels of lending activity across the banking businesses and a reduction in the UK’s cost of funding in the period.

The group’s wealth and investment unit’s operating profit increased by 14.7percent to £49.5m, up from £43.2m in the comparative period. Investec’s specialist banking unit operating profit went up 12.5percent to £239.4m from £212.8m in the comparative period.