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Five things making headlines in South Africa today

President to ‘shed light’ on Eskom on day five of load shedding, Irba holds KPMG hearings, Italtile results, Dis-Chem trading statement, December mining output.

Here’s what caught our attention on Thursday:

1. Load shedding, day 5

The prospect of Eskom’s future is looking dim, as is the city at night. Eskom is implementing a fifth consecutive day of load shedding on Thursday, but dropped it down a notch to stage 2 from stage 3 on Wednesday. Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan ruled out the possibility of sabotage as a reason for load shedding, but said swift action needs to be taken. Eskom will need a bailout by April, or it will ‘cease to exist’ if it continues in its current trajectory, a report by the public enterprises showed. Eskom is also taking the shine away from the rand, as it reaches its R14/$ on Thursday.

Further to that, president Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to respond to questions from parliament on his State of the Nation Address and outline plans to help save Eskom on Thursday. 

Read: Eskom in danger of collapse without bailout, SA says 

2. Irba holds hearing for KPMG

The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors’ (Irba) disciplinary committee is holding a three-day hearing for a former partner of scandal-hit auditor KPMG, which will kick off from Thursday. Irba is looking into KPMG’s audit of Gupta-linked entities. Sanctions against the auditor will be announced and KPMG may even present objections to the charges.

3. Italtile results

Italtile starts the year on a positive note as it celebrates its golden anniversary. The group reported a 13% increase in headline earnings per share to 54.7 cents and a 13% increase in earnings per share to 55.4 cents for the six months ended December 31, 2018. The company is declaring a dividend of 22.0 cents per share, up 29%. The group says its results during the period were impacted by the acquisition of Ceramic Industries, which came into effect on October 2 2018.

4. Dis-Chem trading statement

Pharmacy and retailer Dis-Chem says the current ongoing industrial action heavily impacted the group’s December trade and continues to do so. For the 22 weeks from September 1 2018 to February 2 2019, Dis-Chem recorded a retail revenue growth of 6.2% and a retail comparable store revenue of -2.5%. Group revenue for the period however increased by 10.7% to R9.4 billion. In terms of industrial action, Dis-Chem says it will not negotiate with any union who is not representative of its workforce.

5. December mining production

Mining production fell 4.8% year-on-year in December, following a revised 5.8% decrease in November. Gold output fell 31.0% and platinum group metals picked up by 6.1% in December. 

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