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Thu, 15 Feb 2018
Rand firmer on trade surplus, weaker dollar

The Rand firmed against the dollar yesterday, supported by a weaker greenback and data showing the country’s trade surplus widened last year.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R11.8495 to the dollar, 11.34c stronger than at the same time on Tuesday, about 0.85percent firmer than its close on Tuesday.

South Africa’s trade surplus in December widened to R15.72billion from a R13.05bn surplus in November, the revenue agency said.

On a cumulative basis the trade balance between January and December was at a R80.55bn surplus compared to a R1.05bn surplus over the same period in 2016.

“One of the catalysts is the slight dollar weakness that has come into the market that has helped South Africa and the rest of emerging markets gain a little bit of ground,” said Treasury One chief currency dealer, Wichard Cilliers. He added: “The trade surplus has also helped the rand slightly.”

Market attention was also pinned on President Jacob Zuma’s future as head of state.

South African news website News24 reported late on Tuesday that top officials from the ANC would meet Zuma to discuss “options” to avoid him being impeached or voted out by parliament.

The ANC has been discussing whether to tell Zuma, whose presidency has been tainted by corruption allegations, to resign.

Any sign that Zuma could go before his second term ends next year has tended to boost domestic assets, including the rand.

Government bonds also firmed, with the yield for the benchmark instrument falling 9 basis points to 8.47percent.

In equity markets, the main stock indices ended little changed but Vodacom was in demand after the mobile phone operator reported higher quarterly sales.

Vodacom, the unit of Britain’s Vodafone, advanced 5.45percent to R163.50 after posting a 6.7percent increase in third-quarter sales thanks to increasing customer base.

Among other top gainers, Barclays Africa Group rose 4.13percent to R180.10.

The blue chip JSE Top40 index was off 0.16percent at 52614.65 points and the broader all share index inched down 0.07percent to close at 59506.12 points




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Thu, 15 Feb 2018
Is Capitec Another Steinhoff? Not Quite.

The South African market was shook on Tuesday when Viceroy Research released a damning report that claimed that Capitec bank “is a wolf in a sheep’s clothing and a loan shark”. Viceroy also said that the reserve bank and finance ministry must immediately place the bank under curatorship. Capitec stock fell by about 20% as a result. The group played a role in bringing to light the financial mismanagement of the Steinhoff Group last year. But what does all of this mean? The Daily Vox spoke with Michael Porter, a trader at Unum Capital to make sense of it all.

Firstly, who is Viceroy Research?

Viceroy Research is a now well-known firm that published an explosive report on the global retailer Steinhoff International Holdings, alleging financial irregularities. “The main thing these guys do is that they investigate companies, they compile a report and then they short the company. Basically they try to benefit from a falling share price,” Porter said to The Daily Vox.

Why did Viceroy play such a large role in collapsing Steinhoff?

“We have to remember that although these Viceroy guys got the Steinhoff thing spot on,” Porter said. Its report was released the day after Steinhoff announced that its chief executive Markus Jooste and that its auditors Deloitte had refused to sign off on its financial statements. That report is considered accurate and professional and largely contributed to the collapse of the Steinhoff share price.

People have been throwing the term ‘short selling’ around – what exactly does that mean? Short selling is when you borrow shares and sell it in the market, Porter said. The main point is to benefit from a falling share price. You would, for example, sell the share at R1 000 and if it falls to R800, you buy back the share and you’ve pocketed a falling share price of R200. “It’s basically to make a profit on a falling share price,” he said.

That seems suspicious. Is that allowed?

“That’s the market. If everybody had to buy shares, you wouldn’t find liquidity in the market. Shorting is perfectly normal,” said Porter. There is suspicion clouding Viceroy because there are questions about whether it is trying to benefit unethically.

On Tuesday, the PSG Group, Capitec’s largest shareholder, issued a note to its shareholders, saying that it was “greatly concerned” about Viceroy’s intentions because it had never consulted with Capitec management to understand how the bank operates, and would launch an investigation which would include looking into how Capitec and PSG shares were traded, leading up to the release of the report.

How can Viceroy benefit unethically from the Capitec report?

Following the publicity that the firm received after outing Steinhoff, there was speculation that Viceroy would release another report on a company and that it would have another Steinhoff effect. Viceroy was aware that there would be an initial price reaction in the share prices and that it could benefit. If an unknown company released a report on Capitec, there would not necessarily be a reaction to it. However, Viceroy was spot on about Steinhoff and so everything it releases gets a lot of traction. [...]

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Thu, 15 Feb 2018

Investigators say false VAT vendor details with fraudulent supporting documents were used to register ghost profiles with the South African Revenue Service (Sars) in a bid to claim around a R100 million.

The Hawks have arrested nine suspects linked to a syndicate that’s been operating a value added tax (VAT) scam in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Investigators say false VAT vendor details with fraudulent supporting documents were used to register ghost profiles with the South African Revenue Service (Sars) in a bid to claim around a R100 million.

Officers seized an AK47, gold bars as well as Kruger Rands worth millions of rand.

The Hawks’ Hangwani Mulaudzi says that the suspects are expected to appear in the Commercial Crimes Court in Durban and Pretoria on Thursday morning.

“We still have to find out exactly how they were able to access the systems within Sars. At the same time, we are of the view that there’s no way that somebody can just do it without the assistance of someone inside.”


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