Today’s Top 8 Business Stories – 11 October




1) Eskom Yield Curve at Steepest on Record Shows Long-Term Concerns

Bond investors are losing faith in the long- term prospects of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state- owned electricity company that’s drowning in debt. Yields on dollar securities maturing in 2021 dropped the most in more than two months on Thursday after the government set conditions for 59 billion rand ($4 billion) of bailout funds. But yields on longer term notes barely budged, pushing the yield premium on 2028 bonds to the highest on record.

2) Absa Plans Chinese Office in Investment Bank Expansion Drive
Absa Group Ltd.’s corporate and investment banking unit plans to open an office in China as part of an expansion that will also target other parts of Asia and the Middle East. “Next year, we will be seeking strategic approval from our board for an on-the-ground presence in China,” Charles Russon, the division’s chief executive officer, said in an interview in Johannesburg. View Share Prices for Absa Group Ltd.

3) Ex-South African President Zuma Loses Bid to Scrap Graft Case
Former South African President Jacob Zuma lost a court bid to have a graft case against him that dates back to the 199Os scrapped. The ruling by the High Court in the eastern town of Pietermaritzburg on Friday clears the way for Zuma’s trial to begin on Oct. 15. He faces 16 charges, including money laundering and racketeering.

4) Hitting S. Africa Revenue Estimates Will Be Hard, Tax Head Says
South Africa will struggle to meet revenue estimates this year, even as the new head of the tax agency sets about repairing the “deep damage” that took place under his predecessor’s watch.

5) Lack of Funds Means South Africa Can’t Stop Sewage Polluting Dam
South African troops suspended work to rehabilitate the water system that serves the nation’s richest province because of a lack of funds. President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the sewage problem in the Vaal River system a national crisis in October last year and authorized the deployment of the South African National Defence Force to intervene because the local municipality failed to fix it, said Colonel Andries Mokoena Mahapa, who led the troops.

6) Biggest African Insurer Pulls Further Ahead as Rivals Scale Back
Africa’s largest insurer is getting breathing room to build on its biggest-ever acquisition and expand existing operations as rivals scale back on the continent and its main competitor squabbles with its fired CEO. Sanlam Ltd. last year spent about $1.1 billion to buy all of Casablanca-based Saham Finances SA and gain a footprint in more African countries than any other financial-services company outside of banking. View Share Prices for Sanlam Ltd.

7) S. African Stocks at Two-Week High as Banks Advance, Gold Gains
South Africa’s main stock index climbs to two-week high, rising for a second day amid growing hopes that the U.S. and China can negotiate a trade truce. Bank shares advance as trade optimism boosts the rand and encourages risk-on sentiment. Gold miners gain as bullion advances Friday. * Benchmark index +0.5% as of 10:09am in Johannesburg, highest since Sept. 27; extends gain since Monday to 2.5%.

8) U.S. Sanctions Guptas, Essa Over Corruption in South Africa
The U.S. Treasury imposed sanction against four businessmen who it said were members of “a significant corruption network” in South Africa and had paid bribes and used other underhand measures to influence government appointments and contracts. The sanctions were levied against brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta, and Salim Essa, said Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.