Monday, 18th March 2019


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South Africa’s rand weakened slightly early on Monday as continued rolling power cuts from the state-owned power utility weighed on market sentiment ahead of local and international economic data due later in the week.

At 0628 GMT, the rand traded at 14.4375 versus the dollar, 0.33 percent weaker than its New York close on Friday. 

Eskom said it would continue with planned power cuts on Monday and Tuesday after it stepped up rolling blackouts on Saturday, underscoring the risks to businesses in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

“The announcement by Eskom that load shedding will prevail throughout the weekend curtailed more decisive rand recovery as the supply-side constraint continues to dampen the outlook for the domestic economy and feeds into deteriorating business confidence,” said NKC African Economics in a morning note. 

The rand is expected to trade in a range of 14.30 rand to 14.50 rand on Monday.

The currency will await further direction from local inflation data and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Reserve interest rate decision due later this week.

Government bonds weakened, with the yield on the benchmark instrument maturing in 2026 up 5 basis points to 8.720 percent.


MTN Group’s Uganda unit is looking to boost local shareholding to 20 percent from 4 percent this year, the South African telecoms giant’s Chief Executive Robert Shuter said.

The move to expand local ownership appears a bow to pressure from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who has said he would like the firm to list on the local bourse so some of the firm’s revenues stay in the country.

Shuter said the firm planned to engage in discussions with authorities over how to structure the extra stake sell-off.

“We would like to broaden it (local ownership) in the course of 2019...we would like to target to move it from 4 percent to 20 percent,” Shuter told Ugandan television NTV Uganda Wednesday night. 

“What we now need to do is really engage in the market and with the authorities as to what is the demand, how much funds are available, how best to structure that.”

MTN is already in talks with state-owned pension fund NSSF for a potential purchase of the extra stake, added Shuter.

NSSF has assets of more than 7.9 trillion Ugandan shillings ($2.13 billion).

“We’ve been in discussions with the NSSF, this is a potential investor in MTN Uganda...this is a way to get broadbased participation without necessarily having to go through all the complexity of the listing,” Shuter said. 

Last month, Uganda deported four MTN Uganda executives including the firm’s top official, Wim Vanhelleputte, accusing them of compromising national security. The firm has also been accused of under-declaring its revenues and causing public revenue losses.

MTN has denied all the accusations.

($1 = 3,713.0000 Ugandan shillings)


South Africa’s rand firmed against the dollar in early trade on Monday as risk appetite improved on signs the United States and China were close to striking a tariff deal to end their protracted trade war. 

At 0604 GMT, the rand traded at 14.1650 per dollar, 0.46 percent firmer than its close of 14.2300 on Friday. 

U.S.-China trade deal appears to be closer to reality, rolling back U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, as Beijing makes pledges on structural economic changes and eliminates retaliatory tariffs, a source briefed on negotiations said on Sunday.

Locally, the focus this week is on GDP numbers for the last quarter of 2018 due on Tuesday and current account data for the same period to be released on Thursday.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government paper due in 2026 was down 2 basis points to 8.725 percent in early trade.


South Africa’s business confidence deteriorated in February, falling to 93.4 from 95.1 in January, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) said on Wednesday — the index’s lowest level since September.

Confidence in Africa’s most industrialised economy has been strangled by policy and political uncertainty, with investors sceptical about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ability to deliver reform ahead of national elections in May and the resumption of nation-wide electricity blackouts.


South African telecoms group MTN said the head of its Iranian associate MTN Irancell is to retire, to be replaced by an academic with expertise in the sector.

MTN said Alireza Ghalambor Dezfouli, who had headed MTN Irancell since its 2005 inception, had been integral in building Irancell into the country’s largest data operator with more than 40 million customers.

He will be replaced by university professor Bijan Abbasi Arand.

Iran is one of MTN’s largest markets, but its entry into the country has been marred by allegations it used bribes to win a 15 year operating licence, estimated to be worth more than $30 billion, in competition with Turkish rival Turkcell.

Abbasi’s appointment comes a week after South Africa’s former ambassador to Iran was arrested on charges he helped MTN acquire the licence in return for 1.4 million rand ($100,352) which he used to purchase property.

MTN denies the allegations. It faces a $4.2 billion lawsuit brought by Turkcell in South Africa over the matter. 

“MTN Group thanks Mr. Dezfouli for his years of service and congratulates Dr Abbasi on his new role,” the company said in a statement.

($1 = 13.9509 rand)


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