SOEs Seek $1 Billion Lifeline, Controversy Over CEO Payout


In the ever-evolving landscape of South Africa’s financial sector, several key developments have taken center stage. From discussions with the World Bank to a controversial payout, a significant investor exodus, and a high-profile CEO resignation, here’s what’s currently making waves in the world of South African finance.

World Bank Loan Talks to Aid Struggling SOEs

South Africa has initiated discussions with the World Bank to secure a $1 billion loan, aimed at bolstering Eskom’s transmission company and upgrading Transnet’s railway infrastructure. These state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been grappling with operational and financial challenges for years, despite multiple bailouts from the government. Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo revealed that these discussions are crucial to help rescue these key entities, which are integral to the country’s infrastructure and economy. This move marks a significant step towards stabilizing the troubled SOEs.

Sanral Chair’s Controversial Million Rand Earnings

Themba Mhambi, the chair of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), has come under fire for his substantial earnings amid missed targets. Mhambi earned a staggering R3 million in board fees, while Sanral failed to meet 50% of its road targets for the year. In the 2022/23 fiscal year, Sanral conducted 24 board meetings, 19 of which were special board meetings. Notably, Mhambi’s earnings more than doubled the fees earned by former Transnet chair Popo Molefe and Eskom chair Malegapuru Makgoba in 2022. This revelation has sparked a heated debate on corporate governance and accountability within state-owned enterprises.

Foreign Investor Exodus Reflects Eroding Confidence

The continuous exodus of foreign investors from the MSCI South Africa Index fund has painted a bleak picture of South Africa’s investment climate. The latest data from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) reveals a net sale of shares worth R103 billion by foreign traders in 2023, a significant increase from the R74 billion in the previous year. Karin Richards, an investor and technical share trader, lamented the erosion of confidence in South Africa and its diminishing allure for investors. She pointed out that, after a brief period of optimism in 2018, the country’s investment climate has been on a steady decline.

Discovery Health CEO Resigns: A Shift Beyond Healthcare and Finance

Dr. Ryan Noach, the CEO of Discovery Health, has stepped down from his role after more than 15 years of service. His resignation is driven by a desire to explore entrepreneurial opportunities that lie outside of the healthcare and financial services sectors. In an official statement, Discovery Group CEO Adrian Gore expressed gratitude for Dr. Noach’s significant contributions to the group. Noach’s departure marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in both his career and the leadership of Discovery Health.

Market Volatility Amid Global Uncertainty

Financial markets in South Africa have been facing heightened volatility in recent days. The value of the South African rand dropped against a stronger U.S. dollar following the unexpected increase in U.S. inflation. This has raised concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve may maintain higher interest rates for a more extended period. As of October 13, 2023, the rand was trading at R18.99 against the U.S. dollar, R20.03 against the Euro, and R23.17 against the British pound. In addition to the currency fluctuations, Brent crude oil was trading at $86.66 per barrel, reflecting ongoing global economic uncertainty.

South Africa’s financial landscape is undoubtedly facing significant challenges, from the state-owned enterprises in dire need of support to controversies surrounding executive compensation, declining investor trust, and the departure of key industry figures. As the world watches these developments unfold, the resilience and adaptability of South Africa’s financial sector will be put to the test, with potential consequences for both domestic and international stakeholders.



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