Today’s Top 8 Business Stories – 2 September

By Asset Management

1) ‘Too Big to Fail’ Makes Eskom Debt a Good Bet in Low-Yield World
South Africa’s pledge not to let Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. fail is enticing yield-starved investors to the company’s dollar debt. Bondholders from New York to Seoul say they’re happy to hold onto the power company’s securities — and in some cases add to their holdings — because of their extra return relative to the country’s sovereign debt.

2) South Africa Stands to Gain Most From Africa Free Trade: Mboweni
African Continental Free Trade Agreement is “a gift of the Gods for South Africa,” Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tells reporters in Johannesburg. * Nation will benefit the most because of its industrialized status * Mboweni calls for speedy resolution to U.S.-China trade dispute, which he says is “unhelpful” to the South African economy.

3) Old Mutual First-Half Profit Rises 10% on Investment Returns
South African insurer Old Mutual Ltd. said first-half profit rose 10% from a year earlier as higher investment returns boosted earnings, offsetting tepid economic growth in its home market. Adjusted earnings before one-time items increased to 5.2 billion rand ($342 million), the Johannesburg-based firm said in a statement on Monday. View Share Prices for Old Mutual Ltd. 

4) South African PMI Slides Back to Contraction as Sentiment Wanes
South African manufacturing industry sentiment slid back into contraction in August, signaling the surprising recovery in July was unsustainable. Absa Group Ltd.’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research, fell to 45.7 points from 52.1 in July, the Johannesburg-based lender said in an emailed statement on Monday. That marks the seventh month this year it’s been below the 50 level, which indicates a decline in output.

5) SAA Posts CEO Advert Three Months After Last Head Resigned
South African Airways has placed an advertisement for a new chief executive officer in a prominent Sunday newspaper — three months after the previous holder of the job quit over a lack of government support. The loss-making state-owned airline has been without an permanent CEO since Vuyani Jarana resigned, extending a long- running issue with finding a leader who is able and willing to restore profitability at the carrier.

6) What to Watch in Commodities: Dorian, Nickel, Tariffs, Oil, PGMs
Commodity investors have destruction on their minds. The trade fight between Washington and Beijing just saw a major escalation that’ll inflict further damage; the havoc-bringing Hurricane Dorian may batter the U.S. East Coast after hammering the Bahamas; and investors are figuring out the hurt to worldwide nickel supplies that’ll follow an ore ban by Indonesia. Beyond that menu, there’s plenty more.

7) Botswana to Hold Elections Next Month Amid Ruling Party Split
Botswana, the world’s second-biggest diamond producer, will hold elections on Oct. 23, with the southern African nation’s ruling party facing its toughest challenge since gaining independence in 1966. Nominations for parliament and municipal candidates is set for Sept. 26, the Independent Electoral Commission said in an emailed statement Monday.

8) South African Stocks Edge Lower as Old Mutual, Richemont Decline
South Africa’s benchmark FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index drops 0.2% as of 10:14am in Johannesburg in first trading session of September as declines in Richemont and Old Mutual weigh on the market. * Investors await manufacturing numbers Monday, and gross domestic product and current-account figures due later in data- heavy week. View Share Prices for JSE Top 40 Companies.