Former SABC CEO recommended for Icasa board

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Lulama Mokhobo (Jan Gerber, Netwerk24)

Cape Town – A former CEO of the SABC, a broadcasting activist and a former ANC MP are among the five people recommended to serve on the board of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

The Portfolio Committee on Communications on Tuesday decided to recommend Nomonde Gongxeka-Seope, Thembeka Simane, Kate Skinner, Lulama Mokhobo and Rubben Mohlaloga, after it interviewed 13 candidates on October 12.

Mohlaloga was appointed to the previous board in 2013, despite allegations that he defrauded the Land Bank of R6m. He has served as acting chairperson of the Icasa board since 2016.

He is also a former deputy president of the ANC Youth League and served as an ANC MP.

Mokhobo was SABC CEO from 2012 to February 2014.

In December last year, she testified before the ad hoc committee investigating the SABC board at the time that controversial former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng was the centre of power at the SABC and that she was often sidelined by him and former board chairperson Ben Ngubane.

READ: I have received threats, former SABC boss tells MPs

Skinner is a broadcasting researcher and founding member of the SOS Coalition, a lobby group which endeavours for the strengthening of public and community broadcasting in the public interest. The SOS Coalition has often taken a very critical stance on the SABC’s management.

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications Humphrey Maxegwana said: “The committee is confident that the recommended candidates possess the requisite skills pertinent to the task, which include corporate governance, leadership, finance and legal. They also displayed thorough knowledge of the telecommunications and regulatory sector.”

The recommended names will be tabled in the National Assembly for final adoption, and then forwarded to Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane for appointment.  

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MTN appeals to court to dismiss $4.2bn Turkcell case

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MTN. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg – The MTN Group has asked the High Court in Johannesburg to dismiss a $4.2bn damages claim by Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri, five years after the case was first brought in relation to the awarding of an Iranian license in 2005.

Africa’s largest wireless operator by sales denies Turkcell’s allegations that it paid bribes to South African and Iranian officials to secure 49% of Irancell Telecommunication Services, according to court papers.

MTN [JSE:MTN] has asked for the case be dismissed with costs paid by the Istanbul-based carrier. “Turkcell’s claim is opportunistic, an abuse of the process of court, baseless and without merit,” MTN said in emailed comments on Tuesday. “We have every expectation that we will prevail.”

MTN’s pleas “assert a variety of expected and meritless technical legal defenses,” Turkcell said in an emailed statement. “Turkcell is confident that they will be rejected by the court.”

MTN’s defence marks the latest salvo in a long-running effort by Turkcell to be compensated for losing out on the license, which was originally awarded to the Turkish company.

Turkcell first sued Johannesburg-based MTN in the US in 2012, though was later forced to withdraw the claim after the Supreme Court ruled that it couldn’t be heard in the country.

The case was later filed in South Africa in 2013, but was delayed following objections by MTN and subsequent amendments.

The $4.2bn figure is based on profit the Turkish company says it could have made had it been able to keep the license plus interest.

“We consider that it is most unjust to burden MTN with a fifth round of litigation of substantially the same matters,” MTN said. “Turkcell was the author of its own misfortune in failing to obtain the license.”

Key territory

Iran has emerged as a key territory for MTN after the lifting of US-led sanctions allowed the carrier to repatriate almost $1bn of funds tied up in the country earlier this year.

The company had more than 49.5 million customers in Iran as of the end of September, behind only Nigeria’s 50.3 million.

MTN has sought to expand in the country since the sanctions were lifted, agreeing to buy a 49% stake in an Iranian state-owned internet provider for R540m in May.

Chief executive officer Rob Shuter has said the company is prioritising investments in its biggest markets, particularly in networks.

MTN shares declined 0.1% to R122.80 as of 11:57pm in Johannesburg, valuing the business at R231bn.

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Mahlobo instructs officials to fast-track SA’s energy plan

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Cape Town – New Energy Minister David Mahlobo has told his department to conclude the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – which will serve as South Africa’s blueprint for future energy needs – with “immediate effect”.

Mahlobo faced a grilling from members in the National Council of Provinces in Parliament on Tuesday, answering questions about the sale of South Africa’s strategic fuel stocks late 2015, and how government intended to proceed with its nuclear build programme. 

“I directed my team (at the Energy Department) to conclude the IRP with Cabinet with immediate effect so that we have policy certainty and we can boost investor confidence,” Mahlobo said in one of his responses. 

Mahlobo, who was appointed energy minister earlier this month, said SA’s security of energy supply was paramount and that the IRP should continue to inform these security requirements.

“Because of the development of our economy adjustments needed to be made (to the IRP). We need to be clear about our supply of energy,” he said.

He also asked members not to “politicise” the nuclear issue.

READ: David Mahlobo: The nuclear deal’s new best friend? 

Mahlobo indicated earlier on Tuesday during a briefing of Parliament’s oversight committee on energy, that he wanted the IRP to be concluded by November this year.

His predecessor Mmamoloko Kubayi had undertaken to present a finalised version of plan ahead the main budget in February 2018.

Suspicious 

DA spokesperson on energy Gordon Mackay however said this haste with the IRP was “suspicious”, especially because it is such an extensive document.

“Indications by the new Energy Minister, David Mahlobo, that the Integrated Resource Plan will be moved forward and ready by the end of November are alarming and are yet another instance of government sending mixed signals on nuclear energy,” he said in a statement.

Mahlobo said in the NCOP that government has never said it would prioritise one energy option over another.

“Our energy policy remains the same. There is space for renewables and we’re investing in base load (such as coal-fired power stations and nuclear.) Price is a determinant, plus uptake (demand).”

READ: Nuclear: Mahlobo may be the bulldozer Zuma needs 

The Minister added that energy was a “weighty issue”.

“This preoccupation with nuclear has nothing to do with our policy positions. I’m not in the business of tenders, but to ensure we have energy security and I won’t be deterred,” he said, adding that nuclear energy would be pursued at a “scale and pace” the country could afford. 

President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister have also repeated this stance on numerous occasions. 

Mahlobo was appointed Energy Minister early in October during a surprise Cabinet reshuffle, which some commentators took as a sign that SA wanted to fast-track its nuclear ambitions. 

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Rand hedge stocks gain on JSE as local currency slides

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Cape Town – The rand slipped to R14.17/$ on Tuesday after closing near R14.04/$ on Monday.

The strengthening dollar, meanwhile, further supported rand hedge stocks, with Richemont [JSE:CFR] climbing 0.73% to R130.34 per share.  

The JSE All-Share index closed the day 0.17% firmer, matched by the blue-chip JSE Top-40 index. 

The Industrials Index edged 0.13% lower, while the Financials index gained 0.26% and Resources ended the day up 0.89%.  

Platinum producers emerged as the frontrunners in trade on Tuesday, with Lonmin [JSE:LON]  gaining 5.07% to end the day at R19.48 per share, Implats [JSE:IMP] gaining 3.21% to boost its share price to R39.22, and Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS] rising 1.30% to finish at R265.09 a share. 

The platinum index also firmed, gaining 1.61% overall as miners react to stronger platinum prices and the weaker rand.  

South African labour force data released on Tuesday showed that the SA unemployment rate remained unchanged at 27.7% in the third quarter.

READ: Unemployment at record high for third quarter in a row

The labour force increased somewhat, while the labour absorption rate remained steady.  

Formal sector employment increased by 1.7% over the quarter, manly driven by increased employment in financial as well as community and social services industries. The informal sector recorded job losses, however. 

The statistics provide further evidence that general economic conditions remain subdued, and the economy is struggling to create jobs. 

Oil

Brent Crude continued its climb on Tuesday, trading at $61.01/bbl at the close of the local session. Sentiment remains largely bullish in the commodity as geopolitical uncertainties stem from the conflict between the Kurds and Iraqis, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and the potential for US President Donald Trump to decertify the Iran nuclear deal.

Another positive factor is the upcoming OPEC meeting at the end of November where many expect the agreement limiting crude oil output to be extended beyond March 2018.

China’s official manufacturing PMI missed expectations in October, coming in at 51.6, with both production and demand falling during a week-long national holiday.

Activities in the energy and manufacturing industries also slowed due to the country’s crackdown on pollution in some regions. The official services PMI meanwhile fell to 54.3 from 55.4 in September, according to the National Bureau of Statistics

In the US, Janet Yellen is likely presiding over one of her final meetings as the Federal Open Market Committee begins its latest two-day policy get-together.

Fed Governor Jerome Powell is widely expected to be named the banks new chairperson; he has been seen as closest to Yellen of all the candidates, and is set on normalising US interest rates.

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SA’s five most in-demand jobs of 2017

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Cape Town – SA job advertising search engine Adzuna on Tuesday announced that SA’s “rarest skills” were in the digital and technology sectors, with demands for web developers and coders far outstripping supply.   

To investigate which jobs were in-demand, Adzuna matched supply and demand for jobs across a range of categories on its website. 

“From the 2017 report findings, it’s evident that roughly 70% of the rarest skills fall under the technical and development industries. Other industries that are targeting rare skills include the consultancy, managerial and financial fields,” said Adzuna in a statement.

It said its findings correlated broadly with the South African Science, Technology and Innovation Report of 2016, which indicated that a lack of skills can loosely be blamed on SA’s inability to make any real progress in maths and science education and skills development.

How it works 

Jesse Green, country manager for Adzuna SA, said although the data only analysed online job advertisements, the number of observations was high enough to draw the “conclusive inference” that SA companies are increasingly struggling to find technical skills”.

Green said that, by matching supply and demand, Adzuna could provide a snapshot of which SA jobs were particularly in demand. 

“The demand for a skill is the number of jobs posted for it by companies,” she said. “The supply of a skill is the number of job seeker searches made for it.” 

The list below gives the five “rarest’ skills according to Adzuna‘s metrics. 

1. Java developer 

Rareness factor: 128.8. This means that for every 128.8 job adverts on Adzuna from employers for Java coders, there was one job seeker. 

Average salary: R513 000

2. Developer 

Rareness factor: 66.5 – This means that, for every 66.5 job adverts on Adzuna from employers for developers, there was one job seeker. 

Average salary: R467 000

3. PHP developer

Rareness factor: 64.3 – This means that, for every 64.3 job adverts on Adzuna from employers for PHP developers, there was one job seeker. 

Average salary: R410 000

4. Web developer 

Rareness factor: 53.1 – This means that, for every 53.1 job adverts on Adzuna from employers for web developers, there was one job seeker. 

Average salary: R395 000

5. Financial accountant 

Rareness factor: 51.8 – This means that, for every 51.8 job adverts on Adzuna from employers for financial accountants, there was one job seeker. 

Average salary: R471 000

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Top5 on Fin24: Trillian whistleblower gives evidence in Parliament, and finance minister criticises Eskom tariff hike application

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ICYMI: Tuesday’s top 5 reads on Fin24:

#StateCapture: I was used for something very perverse – whistleblower

Ex-Trillian Financial Advisory CEO Mosilo Mothepu has told Parliament that she believes her services were “used for something very perverse”.

She led Trillian’s team at Eskom on various jobs and left when she discovered the Gupta-linked firm getting work without PFMA approval and against rules stipulated by the Companies Act.

Mothepu was giving evidence before Parliament’s state capture inquiry.  She said that Trillian didn’t have any policies, and had no corporate governance structure.

ANC MP and former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan asked her what civil servants should do when confronted by corrupt activities.

“If you don’t have the courage to say no, it breeds the cancer,” she replied. “That cancer grows until the body dies.”

Read the full report from our journalist on site. 

READ: #StateCapture: I was used for something very perverse – whistleblower

I was never asked to change a number, says outgoing Stats SA boss

Statistician-General Pali Lehohla. (Photo: Gallo I

At no point during his reign as head of Statistics South Africa did government ask him to change a number, said outgoing statistician general Pali Lehohla, 

Lehohla, who will be leaving his position at midnight, presented the third-quarter labour force survey results at Parliament for the last time after being at the helm of Statistics South Africa for the past 17 years.

READ: I was never asked to change a number, says outgoing Stats SA boss

Gupta firms turned away from Postbank

Gupta-owned and linked companies were turned away from Postbank, after they requested opening a bank account with the South African Post Office’s bank.

This was revealed in written Parliamentary papers on Tuesday. 

“No member of the Gupta family approached the Postbank to open up an account,” said Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele in an updated parliamentary response. “An employee from JIC Limited approached the Postbank’s head of sales and customer care telephonically in August 2016 to open an account.

“The Postbank requested details of the company and financial statements. Upon receipt of this information, Postbank established that JIC Limited is part of the Oakbay Investments (Pty) Ltd.” 

READ: Gupta firms turned away from Postbank

Gigaba calls Eskom tariff hike application ‘unjustified’

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday that power utility Eskom’s application for a 19.9% electricity tariff hike next year is “unjustified”.

Gigaba was addressing a business breakfast in Umhlanga, north of Durban, organised by the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“To ask South Africans to pay more … when the economy is subdued and the mid-term outlook is as subdued as it is and we have the types of financial and leadership challenges that Eskom is now experiencing, I think that will serve as a perverse incentive,” he said. “We’ve got to be careful what we do.” 

READ: Gigaba calls Eskom tariff hike application ‘unjustified’

Call to strengthen EU money laundering laws over Gupta graft allegations

The UK Labour Party’s economic affairs spokesperson in the European Parliament, Neena Gill, has requested a review of the EU’s laws on money-laundering over concerns that European banks have become embroiled in allegations of corruption around the Gupta family. 

Gill said in a media release on Monday that she had tabled questions for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, calling for a strengthening of the EU’s anti money laundering rules governing EU financial institutions active in third countries.

“I raised the issue of European financial institutions’ potential involvement in the South African money laundering scandal with the EU Commission, after my Labour colleague in the House of Lords, Peter Hain, brought it to my attention,” Gill said.

READ: Call to strengthen EU money laundering laws over Gupta graft allegations

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Platinum shines as JSE loses ground after promising start

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Johannesburg – Platinum shares were the stars on the JSE on Tuesday, as the market continued to drift sideways amid uncertainties about the South African economy’s prospects.

Impala Platinum [JSE:IMP], Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) [JSE:AMS] and Lonmin [JSE:LON] were among the few major shares which made big advances as the market again lost momentum after a promising start.

Platinum shares have been among the frontrunners over the past week, and a strong production report from Impala gave these shares another push.

Thanks mainly to platinum shares and some gold shares, the Resources index was one of only a few major indices in the black by mid-morning. The Resources index traded 0.36% higher, while the Platinum index gained 1.43% and the Gold index 0.91%.

The result was that the All-share index was only 0.10% higher at 58 928 points by mid-morning, while the Top 40 index gained only 0.09% to 52 525 points. The Industrial index was only 0.04% higher and the Financial index lost 0.08.

These modest gains were however enough to push the All-share, Top 40 and Industrial indices to new all-time highs.

The rand remained relatively weak at R14.04 to the dollar, but it did not do much for the dual-listed shares on the JSE. This is because investors are waiting to see what will happen to South Africa’s credit rating next month, after the mini budget painted a bleak picture of government finances.

There is however life in platinum shares, and Impala was at one stage more than 5% higher at R20.09. By mid-morning the share traded 3% higher at R39.14 after reaching as high as R40.09.

Impala has had a rough year and is still more than 11% lower for the year to date, but the share gained more than 16% over the past seven days, after news that it reached an agreement that will give it control of a major new platinum project in the Waterberg region.

The group on Tuesday said that tonnes milled during the second quarter increased by 9.6% to 6 741 00 tons.  Platinum in concentrate produced during the quarter across all mining operations increased by 6.7% to 349 000 ounces.

Lonmin, which was also in the doldrums earlier in the year, gained 3.83% to R19.25 and earlier traded more than 5% higher at R20.09.

Lonmin is still more than 20% lower for the year to date after reaching a low of R10.29 as recently as July, but is now on a spectacular recovery trail after an agreement with its banks to give it more operational options.

The share gained more than 17% over the past seven days, more than 43% over the past 30 days and more than 74% over the past 90 days.

Amplats breached the R400 level on Tuesday and at mid-morning was 2.53% higher on a new 52-week high of R402.00. It earlier traded as high as R409.00 – a gain of more than 4%.

Amplats made steady progress this year and is now more than 48% higher for the year to date, supported by the palladium price which is still close to $1 000/oz.

Among the commodity giants, BHP [JSE:BIL] traded 0.84% higher at R255.14 and Anglo American [JSE:AGL] gained 0.41% to R262.74. Glencore [JSE:GLN] shed 0.10% to R68.18.

The major industrial shares delivered a mixed bag. Naspers [JSE:NPN] lifted 0.37% to a new all-time high of R3 463.88. Richemont [JSE:CFR] was 0.46% higher at R130.00, just below its all-time high of R130.32.

British American Tobacco [JSE:BTI] gave up 0.55% to trade at R912.19 and Steinhoff [JSE:SHF] was 0.29% softer at R61.77.

The Foschini group [JSE:TFG] was one of the busiest shares on the JSE in terms of value and traded 1.41% higher at R136.77. Mr Price [JSE:MRP] was also busy but lost 0.36% to R175.42. 

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PIC mandates make state capture a tricky matter – Matjila

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Johannesburg – It will be difficult to capture the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) as it has mandates with its clients that prescribe how their funds are managed, CEO Dan Matjila said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a briefing on the Government Employee Pension Fund’s (GEPF’s) investment processes, Matjila shed light on the PIC’s mandate and duty towards the GEPF. He clarified that National Treasury has no say on the investment mandates of its clients.

Previously, Matjila had to fend off moves to unseat him at the PIC. He had to answer to the board on allegations that he had attempted to help Gupta-linked allies gain access to PIC funds, facilitate bailouts of struggling state-owned entities and also help a “special friend” gain access to funds, Fin24 reported.

“The board had to do what they had to do,” Matjila said on the matter. “They had to run a transparency process, a thorough process… They have resolved the allegations were baseless and (even) issued a statement that they have confidence in me. That matter is closed.

“I am okay, we have a job to do. I have (the) support of my colleagues. We are working hard to generate returns for clients,” he said.

Matjila also spoke on state capture concerns and indicated that although it could be possible to capture the corporate management of the PIC, capturing mandates of clients would be difficult.

“It is a rigorous process between a client and the PIC on a quarterly basis. There is a fair amount of checks and balances.”

‘Client monies safe’

“From where I sit, all I can say is that client monies are safe,” he said.

On the PIC’s role toward the GEPF, he reiterated that the investment mandate was given by the GEPF, and that it prescribes the parameters of strategic asset allocations.

The GEPF determines how much of the assets should be invested in equities, bonds and so forth. “They even prescribe the minimum credit in some of the investment in the credit space,” he added.

“The mandate is derived from clients and not National Treasury.” Treasury is the shareholder, and the relationship is through a memorandum of incorporation and shareholder’s compact that defines how the PIC can conduct its business, he explained.

The minister’s role is to appoint the board, through consultation with Cabinet, said Matjila. He went on to say that the minister should have due regard for nominations submitted by depositors.

“Most importantly, the board members must have requisite knowledge,” said Matjila.

The minister should choose board members who are “fit and proper” for the core activity of the PIC which is investment management, he said.

Matjila concluded by saying that the PIC managed to grow its returns for the GEPF and that these returns were not just financial, but had a positive social impact through the creation of jobs, housing finance and education.

“Our approach is simple – we chase risk adjusted returns when doing investment,” he said. 

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LIVE #StateCapture: Ex-Trillian’s Eskom lead gives testimony

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Matthew le Cordeur

2017-10-31 09:49

A witness will give testimony regarding Trillian’s contract with Eskom at Parliament’s state capture inquiry held by the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.

LIVE NEWS FEED


Jump to
bottom


Last Updated at

10:39





Former Regiments, Trillian CE gives testimony

The witness is former Regiments debt capital market
specialist Mosilo Mothepu, who worked there from 2007.

She worked with the three founding directors: Eric Wood, Litha
Nyhonyha and Niven Pillay.

She left in 2010.

Wood then asked Mothepu to come back to
work at Regiments and she got a promotion.

“The understanding of my reappointment at Regiments was to
lead the Eskom team,” she said.

Regiments and McKinsey had submitted a proposal to Eskom.

“Eric Wood needed a senior resource – me – to lead the Eskom
team,” she said.

Mr Wood and Salim Essa bought Trillian and she was transferred
there, she said.

“I was made CE of Trillian Financial Advisory from 1 March
2016.”

She resigned on 22 June 2016 as CE and on 27 June resigned
as director.

Trillian Financial Advisory was a part of the main Trillian Capital Partners firm that Wood was CEO of.




A
witness will give testimony regarding Trillian’s contract with Eskom at
Parliament’s state capture inquiry held by the Portfolio Committee on Public
Enterprises.

 

“The committee
will be briefed on the corporate governance of the contracts of Eskom and Trillian,”
the committee said in a statement. “The meeting will be held in-camera to
protect the identity of the presenters.”

 

Earlier October, Eskom said it had sought the cooperation
of global consultancy McKinsey and Gupta-linked company Trillian in returning
R1bn and R564m respectively “which appears to have been unlawfully paid out in
2016 and 2017”.

 

“The interim findings from Eskom investigations, into the
circumstances surrounding payments made to both the companies, point to certain
decisions by Eskom, and resultant payments, as being unlawful,” Eskom said in a
statement. 

 

In September, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown ordered
Eskom to start taking legal steps against consultancy firms McKinsey and
Trillian, as well as suspended acting CEO Matshela Koko and chief financial
officer Anoj Singh, who is on special leave, her spokesperson, Colin Cruywagen,
said by phone.

 

An interim report by Eskom and G9 Forensic found McKinsey
and Trillian, a company linked to the Guptas, made R1.6bn in fees and expected
to make another R7.8bn, according to amaBhungane and Scorpio, two investigative
journalism groups. 

 



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Lending to households and corporates slowed in September – data

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Johannesburg – The rate of lending to both households and corporates slowed in September, data from the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) revealed.

According to the data, released on Monday, private sector credit extension slowed to an annual rate of 5.6% in September, from 6% in August.

Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan highlighted that the rate of borrowing by corporates has come down from an annual rate of 15.9% in 2015, to 9.1% in 2016 and 7.5% reported in September 2017. Particularly, growth in general loans and advances which make up nearly half of corporate credit rose 8.4% in September. This is slower than rates recorded in 2016 and 2015, which was 13.8% and 18.9% respectively.

“This slowdown has been linked to the effects of persistently depressed business confidence,” explained Kaplan.

Mortgage advances, which comprises 22% of corporate credit rose by 7.5% in September, compared to growth above 10% in both 2015 and 2016, she said. “This has been linked to a slowdown in commercial property development.”

Kaplan explained that the depressed business confidence, challenging economic environment may hamper corporate investment and credit demand. SARB also explained in its data that some large companies have turned to bond issuance instead of bank credit.

Household credit

Household credit growth increased by 3.3% in September. Mortgage advances, which make up the majority (60%) of household credit, grew at 3%.

Unsecured credit, which makes up less than a quarter (23%) of household credit, eased to 3.5% in September, compared to a peak of 31.6% reported in 2012, said Kaplan.

The slowdown in credit growth reflects weaker consumption rates and efforts to reduce debt, she explained.

“Credit conditions applied by retail banks remain relatively tight and the prospect of interest rate increases will likely impact the demand for credit,” she added.

The mini budget has also raised concerns of possible credit downgrades given the growing government debt burden. This also reduces the scope of the SARB reducing interest rates, she concluded.

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