Transnet picks Grindrod to develop Richards Bay container facility

South African logistics company Transnet has picked Grindrod to develop and operate a container handling facility at the Port of Richards Bay, it said on Thursday, seeking to expand capacity and improve port efficiency.

The project, with an estimated capital investment of R285 million ($15.7 million), would increase the port’s container handling capacity from 50 000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 200 000 TEUs per annum, Transnet said, with the facility expected to become operational in 2027.

The port of Richards Bay, on South Africa's east coast, contains a dry bulk terminal, a multi-purpose terminal and a privately operated coal terminal.
Transnet has struggled to provide adequate freight rail and port services because of equipment shortages and maintenance backlogs after years of underinvestment.


Lake Kariba floating solar project to kick off

Zimbabwe plans to install floating solar panels by early next year at the world’s biggest dam, according to the ministry of mines & energy development.

An initial 150MW of solar on the surface of Lake Kariba will be the start of the project, Gloria Magombo, secretary for energy and power development, told reporters at a briefing in the capital, Harare. The private sector has applied to install 600MW, she said, declining to provide details.

Lower water levels at Kariba, which straddles Zimbabwe and Zambia, have caused an increase in power cuts. The Zambezi River Authority has reduced water allocation for power generation due to a drought. The shortages have triggered a search for other technologies to boost capacity.

The government also plans to install floating panels at the Mutirikwi Dam, and there’s been steady interest from the private sector for more projects, Magombo said.


Sasol and TotalEnergies rack up R6bn punitive court win in Transnet pipeline prices battle

The High Court has awarded Sasol Oil and Total Energies about R6 billion in damages over a multi-year battle with Transnet Pipelines regarding alleged overcharging for the transport of crude oil.

In 2017, Sasol Oil followed TotalEnergies in instituting legal action against Transnet for damages arising from Transnet's breach of its obligation to set pipeline tariffs for conveyance of crude oil in terms of a 1991 revised agreement.

The result of the breach was that Transnet overcharged Sasol Oil for the conveyance of crude oil over a number of years, Sasol said, and according to court papers, the parties maintain that from 2008 Transnet breached its obligations in setting the percentage increase in crude oil tariffs above that of refined products.

Transnet, through its business unit Transnet Pipelines, transports crude oil for both Sasol Oil and TotalEnergies Marketing from Durban to the Natref crude oil refinery located in Sasolburg. Sasol and TotalEnergies hold 63.64% and 36.36% respectively of the shares in Natref. TotalEnergies had launched its action in 2013, with the claims consolidated into one action.


Gemfields earns R1.2bn from auction of Mozambican rubies

Gemfields, the emeralds and rubies miner, has reported $68.7 million (R1.24 billion) in revenue from an auction of gems it conducted during the period June 3 to June 18. Under the company’s mixed quality ruby auctions for the month of June, Gemfields managed to sell rubies worth 217 044 carats, earning $68.7m.

The average realised price of rubies sold by the company under its latest auctions amounted to $316.95 per carat. The June 2024 auctions have brought the total auctions undertaken by the company since June 2014 to 22 auctions. This has also pushed up the total revenue from gemstone sales since June 2014 to $1.1bn. “This (June 2024) auction marks the 10th anniversary of Gemfields’ first auction in June 2014 of rubies from the Montepuez Ruby Mine in Mozambique,” said Gemfields managing director Adrian Banks.

The rubies auctioned by the company this month were extracted by Montepuez Ruby Mining Limitada in which Gemfields has a 75% stake, while the company’s Mozambican partner, Mwiriti Limitada, holds the remainder. Gemfields said proceeds from the June rubies auction will be fully repatriated to MRM in Mozambique, with all royalties due to the government of the Republic of Mozambique being paid on the full sales price achieved at the auction.


Nampak rockets 22% as it flags much-improved profits

Shares of embattled packaging group Nampak surged 22% on Thursday after it said a series of improvements at its business will allow for a much better profit picture in its six months to end-March.

Nampak, now valued at R1.9 billion on the JSE, has been grappling with a net debt pile that stood at R4.6 billion at the end of December.

It said on Thursday it expects to report headline earnings per share of between R30 and R34 for the period to end-March, from a loss of about R115 per share previously. Its loss per share is expected to improve to between R10.50 and R12.50, from almost R840 previously.

Nampak had booked a headline loss of R342 million previously, with its update on Thursday suggesting it could book headline earnings of about R100 million in its 2024 half-year. It booked a basic loss of R2.5 billion previously, with its update implying a reduction to about R30 million.

Nampak said on Thursday that continuing headline earnings per share are expected to rise to between R47 and R55, from a loss of about R110 previously. Shares in the group were up almost 22% in midday trade on Thursday but have now only gained just under a fifth so far in 2024.


Standard Bank boosts earnings – but flags consumer trouble

Standard Bank’s credit losses remain elevated, even if the group has seen an increase in headline earnings.

For the five months ended 31 May 2024, the group’s headline earnings grew by low-to-mid single digits ended 31 May 2023. The group said that ZAR growth was hurt by movements in average currencies relative to the ZAR period on period, especially in Angola, Malawi, Nigeria, and Zambia. On a constant currency basis, the group’s headline earnings increased by the mid-teens period on period. Headline earnings for banking activities grew by mid-single digits period on period.

With the group changing its methodology for recognising interest on Stage 3 loans, net interest income has increased, as have credit impairment charges. The group’s net interest margin and credit loss ratio have also increased. Higher average interest rates and increased client transactional volumes supported income growth over the period, but lower trading revenues lessened it.

Although balance sheet growth has slowed, operating expense growth was contained amid cost-containment initiatives and lower performance-linked incentives. Growth in income and operating expenses were also lessened due to currency movements over the period, and total income growth exceeded operating expenses growth, resulting in positive jaws.

The group said that the first half of the year’s performance is compared to a high base period. It remains committed to a full-year return on equity within the group’s target range of 17% to 20%.
The group will release its interim results for the six months to 30 June 2024 on 15 August 2024.


DStv coming for streaming pirates

Numerous households in South Africa using the Waka TV service could soon find themselves in the crosshairs of the law if DStv follows through on a threat to crack down on illegal pirate streaming services.

DStv parent company MultiChoice recently scored two significant victories against people facilitating the operation of illegal streaming services in South Africa.

On Wednesday, 5 June 2024, it announced the arrest of a “key suspect” following the raid of a Waka TV facility in the Western Cape on 31 May.

While there are several IPTV streaming services illegally offering live DStv channels to South Africans at a fraction of their regular prices, Waka TV has emerged as one of the most popular options.

That arrest was followed shortly by the announcement of a second apprehension on Thursday, 6 June, of a person allegedly selling modified Android boxes used to access illegal IPTV streaming services.

The broadcaster maintains that content piracy is a significant threat to local broadcasters and the creative industry as a whole due to its impact on revenue.

The June 2024 arrests are not the first high-profile cases against individuals implicated in piracy of DStv’s content.