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03 May 2019

Rand closes at R14.3753/$.

03 May 2019

MTN revamps board with a who's who of African heavyweights

Loni Prinsloo

The MTN Group appointed former South Africa deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas as chairperson and Nigeria’s ex-central bank Governor Lamido Sanusi as a non-executive director as part of boardroom shake up at Africa’s biggest wireless carrier.

Jonas, 59, will replace Phuthuma Nhleko, who plans to step down in December after almost two decades as chairman or chief executive officer of the Johannesburg-based company.

The stock held onto gains and traded 2.4% higher as of 11:09.

Jonas, who was already a non-executive director of MTN, was deputy finance minister for almost three years before being removed by former President Jacob Zuma in 2017.

He has since been made an investment envoy for Cyril Ramaphosa. "Jonas is the right man to replace a figure such as Nhleko after so many years,” said Ron Klipin, an analyst at Cratos Wealth. He has “expertise and will be the man to negotiate and strategise.”

The appointment of Sanusi, 57, comes as MTN prepares to list its local Nigerian unit on the Lagos stock exchange, a condition of the settlement of a $1bn regulatory three years ago.

The business is the largest of MTN’s 20-market portfolio, accounting for almost a quarter of all subscribers, and has been hampered by a series of government and local authority disputes that have hurt the company’s share price. Sanusi is now the Emir of Kano, a high-ranking position in Africa’s most populous nation and biggest crude producer.

MTN also announced a separate board of prominent people to advise on broader African issues. The group will be headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki and includes John Kufuor, ex-leader of Ghana.

Nhleko will also be a member of that committee.

The 59-year-old joined MTN as chairperson in 2001, becoming CEO for nine years from the following year. He held both roles during negotiations of the $1bn Nigeria fine, which was originally set at $5.2bn as a penalty for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers. Nhleko reverted to chairperson after the appointment of CEO Rob Shuter, who started in 2017.

Jonas is also known for reporting that a member of the Gupta family offered him R600m to take the top finance ministry job and threatened to kill him if he spoke of it. The Guptas are at the heart of an ongoing probe into the plundering of state funds by outside interests under Zuma’s leadership, and deny wrongdoing.

03 May 2019

Stocks advance, treasuries dip before US jobs report

Todd White, Bloomberg

US equity futures and European stocks gained as bright spots appeared in corporate earnings ahead of the latest American jobs data. Treasuries slipped, while the dollar edged higher.Futures on the S&P 500 Index signaled a rebound at the open from Thursday.

The Stoxx Europe 600 also advanced, led by miners and personal-goods makers including Adidas, which soared after reporting operating profit that beat the highest estimate.

HSBC was among the gauge’s top performers and also spurred gains in Hong Kong after posting better-than-expected results. Elsewhere in Asia, stock benchmarks were mixed, with volumes light as markets in China and Japan remain closed.

German bunds and UK gilts dipped. Traders are searching for the next catalyst for bonds and stocks after recent manufacturing data from China and America signaled global growth remains fragile.

Clues on the health of the economic expansion may come Friday with the monthly US employment report.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s assurance this week that officials are “comfortable” with current policy caused a recalibration in interest-rate markets, pushing wagers for a full quarter-point rate-cut from year-end to mid-2020.

Elsewhere, West Texas crude steadied while copper fluctuated, still on course for the biggest weekly drop since August. Bitcoin climbed to its highest level since November, advancing toward $6 000.

03 May 2019

Mcebisi Jonas announced as next MTN chairperson

The MTN group announced on Friday that former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has been appointed its chairperson-designate. 

He will assume the position of chair of the group on December 15, when the current chairperson Phuthuma Nhleko steps down. 

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03 May 2019

Stocks mixed, treasuries steady before US jobs data

Adam Haigh and Todd White, Bloomberg

Global stocks traded mixed to cap the week as the earnings season continued apace ahead of the latest US jobs data.

Treasuries steadied after falling on Thursday, while the dollar edged higher. The Stoxx Europe 600 drifted, as gains in miners were offset by declines in travel shares.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index nudged higher after the benchmark fell Thursday amid concern a US-China trade deal remained elusive.

Shares in Hong Kong rose, helped by HSBC Holdings profit topping estimates. Weakness at Macquarie Group weighed on Australia’s stock index after the bank said profit will drop slightly this year.

Equities in Seoul retreated, though volumes were light across the region with markets in China and Japan still closed.

Traders are searching for the next catalyst for bonds and stocks after recent manufacturing data from China and America signaled global growth remains fragile.

Clues on the health of the economic expansion may come Friday with the monthly US employment report.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s assurance this week that officials are “comfortable” with current policy caused a recalibration in interest-rate markets, pushing wagers for a full quarter-point rate-cut from year-end to mid-2020. Elsewhere, oil was little changed after two days of declines. Copper steadied, still on course for the biggest weekly drop since August.

03 May 2019

Asia stocks slip as focus shifts to earnings, jobs

Adam Haigh, Bloomberg

Asian stocks slipped as investors turned their focus to earnings reports and the upcoming US jobs data, while continuing to monitor developments in trade talks.

Shares in Hong Kong fell ahead of HSBC results and equities in Seoul also retreated, though volumes were light across the region with markets in China and Japan closed.

Weakness at Macquarie Group weighed on Australia’s stock index after the bank said profit will drop slightly this year. Earlier, the S&P 500 Index fell amid concern a US-China trade deal remains elusive.

Elsewhere, oil retreated and copper is on course for its biggest weekly drop since August. Treasury futures steadied after yields climbed overnight and the dollar edged higher.

The Aussie weakened on more signs the economy is struggling. Markets are ending the week on a cautious note after recent manufacturing data from China and America signaled global growth remains fragile.

The next clue on the health of the economic expansion comes Friday with the monthly US employment report.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments this week on the “transient” nature of factors keeping inflation below target prompted a market reassessment, with wagers on when a rate cut might happen shifting from December 2019 into 2020.

Meantime, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other officials have repeatedly said in recent days that China and the US are making progress, with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He due to lead a 100-member delegation to Washington next week for what are seen as crucial trade talks.

While people familiar with the discussions say difficult issues remain unresolved, both sides continue to signal they are focused on striking a deal.

03 May 2019

Retailers seek post-election boost as belts tighten

Londani Nemaguvhuni’s Sunday trip to the Mall of Africa north of Johannesburg is a finely balanced operation.

The 29-year-old has to provide for his young son, but also needs to cut costs. Like most South Africans, the construction foreman is feeling the effects of rising taxes, fuel costs and other bills alongside sluggish economic growth that’s put a dent in consumer confidence.

A flurry of electricity blackouts could lead to a fifth year of less than 1.5% growth, while the joblessness rate stands at 27%.

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