Wimpy, Steers-owner Famous Brands hikes dividend
Steers and Wimpy-owner Famous Brands has hiked its full-year dividend by more than 80%, reporting earnings that rose more than a third as it benefitted from the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions that saw South Africans flocking back to restaurants.
But while the quick service and casual dining group said on Monday that "foot counts and dwell times" in shopping centres improved to support restaurants located there, it also warned consumers were coming under pressure amid a "competitive environment" that saw it coming head-to-head with others for a "share of wallet".
At the same time, the country's intensifying load shedding affected all its divisions.
The company, which also owns Debonairs Pizza and Mugg & Bean, said the local and global "inflation picture remains elevated" and that South Africa was grappling with country-specific problems such as "persistent load shedding, weak economic growth and high unemployment".
"The restaurant industry is highly exposed to load shedding with impacts including lost revenue, increased operating costs and food waste. We are working with our franchise partners to mitigate the worst impacts of load shedding."
The company reported that its revenue rose 15% to R7.4 billion, "materially higher" than its pre-Covid levels, while operating profit rose 37% to R861 million. Headline earnings per share were also up 37% to 488c, while its dividends per share rose 82% to 363c.-Fin24
Tornado Cash hijacked by hackers
Tornado Cash, a service that allows users to mask cryptocurrency transactions, suffered a hostile takeover by hackers through a malicious governance proposal.
Samczsun, a security researcher at crypto investment firm Paradigm, said on Twitter that an attacker granted themselves 1.2 million fake votes on Saturday. As the fake votes exceeded the 700 000 legitimate votes, it allowed the attacker to gain full control over the governance of Tornado Cash.
Tornado Cash couldn't immediately be reached for comment via its Twitter page.
Tornado Cash is a blockchain protocol that is governed by a network of computers. TORN, the governance token of Tornado Cash, enables its holders to vote for changes in the protocol.
"Now that they have all the votes, they can do whatever they want. In this case, they simply withdrew 10 000 votes as TORN and sold it all," Samczsun said in a tweet.
Soon after the news of the exploit, crypto exchange Binance said that it will temporarily pause deposits of TORN. The token fell as much as 44% on Sunday, data from CoinGecko showed.
Tornado Cash is allegedly the preferred tool for hackers and criminals to launder stolen or illicitly acquired funds. Data from Dune Analytics showed over US$8 billion (R155.6 billion) had been sent through Tornado Cash since the service started in 2019.
The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Tornado Cash in August after saying the service was used by North Korean hackers to launder illicit gains. North Korea’s Lazarus Group laundered about US$450 million through the service, a Treasury official said then.-Fin24
Tharisa rides record chrome prices
Record-high chrome prices helped mining company Tharisa maintain a steady revenue during the first half of the financial year even as it mined a quarter less reef than it did a year ago.
The company reported a 51% drop in net profit to US$54.7 million during the first half ended March 2023, coming off a US$335 million revenue. Tharisa said it mined 26% less reef during the period. Mining in the period under review was impacted by unprecedented rainfall, which had a material effect on the ability to mine the right ore mix from the multi-seam open pit, said Tharisa, referring to its operations in the North West.
"Chrome was the standout performer for the period, with prices rising 41.1% to average at US$247 per tonne," said Phoevos Pouroulis, CEO of Tharisa, on Friday. This almost double the US$175 per tonne for which producers could sell the industrial metal during the comparable period to March 2022.
Measured in rand per tonne, the price of chrome jumped 64.3% due to the weakening rand against the US dollar. As the rand continues to weaken against the US dollar, Tharisa said this places it in a "relatively strong position" for pricing dynamics for the remainder of the financial year.
"Chrome prices continue to trade at multi year highs-record spot prices when measured in Rand per tonne terms - as demand remained extremely buoyant, driven in part by the reduction of output from secondary chrome producers," said Pouroulis.-Fin24
Court overturns liquidation of Reiments
The SA Revenue Service (SARS) put a spanner in the wheel of an attempt to set aside the liquidation of Gupta-linked company Regiments Capital.
Regiments Capital featured prominently in questionable tenders awarded to Gupta-linked companies. A Regiments subsidiary was also an advisor to the Transnet pension fund and is accused of abusing this position to the detriment of fund members.
This included suspect trades in bonds meant to boost commission, and questionable payments related to financial instruments that were linked to the corrupt deal in 2012 to supply Transnet with 1 064 locomotives.
Several parties with links to Regiments brought an application to set aside the company's liquidation. SARS intervened and opposed the setting aside, but the high court set aside the liquidation.
SARS and the liquidators took this decision to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which ruled on 18 May that the high court decision be set aside, thereby confirming Regiments' liquidation.
The effect of this decision now places the winding up of the company, including the unbundling of its investments, in the liquidators' hands, and under the ultimate supervision of the creditors and the Master of the High Court.-Fin24
Last Mile behind paying staff contributions
Last Mile Logistics, which delivers newspapers for Independent Media and some smaller media groups in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape, is months behind in paying staff contributions over to pension funds, concerned employees have said.
While pension fund contributions for its 240-odd employees are being deducted from staff salaries, Last Mile Logistics is not immediately paying these over to two funds administered by Old Mutual and Sanlam. Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payments are also behind schedule.
Pension fund contributions are meant to be paid into funds by employers on the seventh of the month following the month for which they are due. But a week ago, Old Mutual wrote a letter to fund members, stating payments were 60 days late.
"Your employer has not paid contributions into the Old Mutual Superfund since 31/01/2023," it states.
"If your employer does not catch up on payment of contributions within the required timeframe, it may lead to your employer no longer being part of the Old Mutual Superfund."
Contributions are also late at another LML staff fund administered by Sanlam.
If contributions are still outstanding after 90 days, pension funds are required to inform SA's financial services watchdog, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority.-Fin24