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02
JUL

Allan Gray shake-up; SAA; SA current account surplus; Astron Energy Cape Town deaths

In today's news headlines:
* SAA has been a significant drain on state coffers, requiring billions of rands of bail-outs, but the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) says shutting South African Airways will cause severe hardship. African countries have lost almost $55bn in travel and tourism revenues in three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, and some airlines are not likely to survive;
* South Africa recorded its first current account surplus in 17 years in the first quarter of 2020 as the trade balance more than doubled, central bank data showed on Thursday;
* Two people were killed on Thursday in an explosion at Glencore-owned Astron Energy’s 100,000 barrel per day refinery in Cape Town, the company said as it promised a full investigation;
* There’s been a shake-up at Allan Gray, South Africa’s largest privately owned asset manager, starting with a new Chief Investment Officer; and
* Tesla has overtaken Toyota as the world’s most valuable automaker. Shares of Tesla, which have more than doubled since the start of the year, climbed as much as 3.5% in intraday trading Wednesday, giving it a market capitalisation of $207.2bn, surpassing Toyota’s $201.9bn, says Bloomberg.
02
JUL

Exclusive: SA’s Covid-19 govt advisor Prof Salim Karim sheds light how far his reach goes

It’s easy to pick holes in a strategy which affects nearly 60 million lives – it’s entirely another thing to take full responsibility for your part in it and to own up when things don’t work. In this exclusive story, Professor Salim Karim, the man leading the way on scientific coronavirus advice to Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mhkize, gives us unique insight into just how far his reach goes, what he can advise on, and what he has no control over. - Chris Bateman
01
JUL

SA economy shrinks 30%; R4bn business interruption claims unpaid; BizNews unpacks tobacco scandal; Steinhoff

In today's news headlines:
* South Africa’s economy probably contracted more than 30% in the second quarter when restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus shuttered almost all activity for five weeks, according to central bank forecasts;
* Virus-related claims are mounting for insurers, with just over 500 small South African firms battling rejected business interruption claims worth up to R4bn;
* Steinhoff, a former Johannesburg stock market darling, continues to experience fall-out from the accounting scandal unearthed in 2017; and
* Tobacco companies - including the so-called legitimate brands - have been ‘ghost smuggling’ cigarettes and making bumper profits under a government prohibition on tobacco sales. BizNews founder Alec Hogg has been investigating.
01
JUL

Inside Covid 19: Prof Linda-Gail Bekker; Tobacco insider Azeem Carim; Dr Jonathan Quick. Ep 55

In episode 55 of Inside Covid-19, global medical heavyweight UCT's Dr Linda-Gail Bekker shares her wisdom about the pandemic – and how little we still know; tobacco industry insider Azeem Carim exposes how cigarette manufacturers are making massive profits during SA’s Covid-19 inspired ban on legal sales; we hear from the Rockefeller Foundation’s MD of Pandemic Response on how the leaders should adjust their pandemic messaging to be better heard by an increasingly restive public; and with Gilead’s drug Remdesivir attracting a huge order from the US Government, Big Pharma is jumping on an opportunity to transform its profit gouging reputation. - Alec Hogg
01
JUL

Tobacco insider: Manufacturer profit gorging on taxpayers, smokers via SA's cigarette ban

For SA's cigarette manufacturers, Covid-19 has been like all their Christmases arriving together. Industry insider and self-confessed smuggler Azeem Carim explains how the SA government's lockdown-enforced ban on cigarette sales has generated a massive payday at taxpayers' expense. It's engineered through "ghost exports" - cigarette makers supposedly producing for sale outside SA borders, but feeding into the local market where excise duties are avoided and profits boosted by massive price hikes. In this interview, instigated by Carim's Right of Reply to yesterday's with Yusuf Kajee, he exposes a dirty industry where players use "connections" at border posts, in political parties and within SARS itself to generate super profits. Carim also has more than a few bones to pick with Kajee, claiming his company was hijacked via his former partner's "connections" at CIPRO - and alleging what Kajee told us about Amalgamated Tobacco Manufacturers is pure fiction.
01
JUL

A Rational Covid-19 Perspective - Half an hour with UCT Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, SA's global heavyweight

Globally, South Africans punch far above their weight in many fields. It's quite an achievement for a country with less than 1% of the global population to have given the world Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Elon Musk, Trevor Noah and many of Europe's leading bankers. But until the coronavirus pandemic grabbed the national attention, apart from famous heart transplant pioneer Dr Chris Barnard the extraorodinary contribution by SA's scientists had passed most by. For instance, the country has produced a clutch of Nobel Prize winning scientists, one of whom, Prof Michael Levitt, is still very much alive. Among the SA heavyweights with huge global reputations is UCT Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, chief operating officer of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. Prof Bekker is the immediate past president of the 11 000 member International Aids Society which hosts the world's largest health or development event in the world; is a Rockefeller University alumnus (25 Nobel prizewinners); and an advisor to the US's massive Aids outreach programme PEPFAR. In this interview, which ranges from pre-exposure prophylaxis to protecting the elderly, from fake news to BCG, her contribution is pure quality. A rare Rational Perspective in an increasingly noisy Covid-19 landscape.
30
JUN

Sasol powers up the JSE, with 270% return; SA GDP shrinks; Zimbabwe security force leaders ordered bank account closures

In today's news headlines:
* South Africa’s recession deepened in the first quarter of 2020, with official data on Tuesday showing that gross domestic product contracted 2% from the previous three months;
* South African stocks are about to round off their strongest quarter in almost two decades, with Sasol leading the pack with a staggering gain of more than 270%;
* Zimbabwe's security force leaders are behind the sudden closure of the country’s stock market and a block on bank accounts; and
* Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell congratulated the All Blacks Sevens team after they were named winners of the 2019/20 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on Tuesday.
30
JUN

Inside Covid-19: SA link in AI model to help fight virus; Lessons from the US's record setting second wave. Ep 54

In Episode 54 of Inside Covid-19, some expert insight (and good news) as SA hits number five among the world's new daily infection table; a global South African tech guru breaks new ground on the coronavirus with an agent-based artificial intelligence model; there’s bad news for restaurant owners worldwide as at least 25% are expected to never re-open; and another brilliant investigation by our partners at the Wall Street Journal – this time into why infections in the hard-hit USA are back at new record levels – and what other countries like South Africa can learn from it. - Alec Hogg
30
JUN

Meet "half pregnant" Yusuf Kajee - independent tobacco player with strong Zuma connection

There were some memorable meetings during our UK sojourn from 2016 to May last year. One of them was this on-the-record interview with independent cigarette manufacturer Yusuf Kajee, owner of Pietermaritzburg-based Amalgamated Tobacco. Kajee, accompanied by business partner Paul De Robillard, expressed himself so freely that, at the time, publishing all his opinions would most likely have landed us in an expensive law suit. So after a fruitless attempt to engage with parties he attacked, I put the 45 minute interview to one side, promising myself to return to it at a more appropriate time. In recent weeks, much of what Kajee alleged is now in the public domain. And with a couple of hard hitting books putting tobacco back in the limelight and government's controversial banning of cigarettes, there is plenty of interest in the industry and the controversial personalities who play in it. So here's the edited version of what was originally a 45 minute gospel according to devout Moslem Yusuf Kajee - business partner of Jacob Zuma's son Edward; the man who lost a kidney to poisoning; arch enemy of Paul O'Sullivan; and someone SARS calls "Mr Half Pregnant". Fascinating. - Alec Hogg 
30
JUN

Hotel owner on business insurance rip-off: SA insurers run as Covid-19 comes calling

Hotel owners and others in the hospitality industry have been paying for business interruption as part of their business insurance policy premiums. But, insurers are refusing to pay for the extreme revenue losses incurred as governments have ordered businesses to close their doors to halt the spread of Covid-19. Insurance companies are ducking and diving around policy wordings and playing a tactical delay game to save themselves from having to pay out vast sums. Many hospitality businesses cannot survive a double whammy of their own insurers refusing to pay and other large companies, like online travel agencies Booking.com and Expedia forcing them to refund non-refundable deposits. Corporations like Expedia, which dominate search engines, have rewritten contracts in their favour - and to the detriment of hotel owners - as the Covid-19 situation has evolved. In this interview with BizNews founder Alec Hogg, hotelier William van der Riet and insurance claims expert Ryan Woolley unpack the business insurance rip-off of the century

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