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Industrial Development Corp to diversify equities investment after sharp losses – CEO

Group revenue fell 9%, assets value fell by a quarter.
Image: Bloomberg

South Africa’s state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) said it would diversify its equity investments after reporting on Monday a sharp decline in the value of its top three holdings in listed companies.

The IDC is South Africa’s biggest financing institution and provides loans to projects that help develop the country’s industrial capacity. It also invests in shares of companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

For the financial year that ended in March 2020, IDC said its stakes in Sasol, Kumba Iron Ore and BHP saw losses amounting to a combined R30 billion.

“We are already looking at better diversification of this portfolio plus a much more active asset management approach towards these assets,” said IDC Chief Executive Tshokolo Nchocho.

The company said its shares in petrochemical firm Sasol, in which it owns an 8.5% stake, were hit by a drop in the oil price and challenges at the Lake Charles project in the United States. The stake was worth just R2 billion at the end of the 2020 financial year, down from R24 billion a year earlier, it said.

Global stock markets, including the JSE, plunged in March as countries went into lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus although the JSE’s main index has rebounded since then.

The IDC’s results were also hit by a depressed South African economy due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and significant losses at subsidiaries, which led to a rise in non-performing loans.

Group revenue fell 9% to R16.3 billion while its asset value fell 24% to R109.6 billion in the 2020 financial year.

As part of its risk management approach, it said it would invest in smaller portions of projects, co-fund some investments and narrow the regions in which it invests across the continent whilst supporting economic recovery.

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The IDC has made many poor politically inspired investments that have gone horribly wrong.

It must stick to its mandate and not destroy SA’s citizens’ value.

Why are the IDC sitting on these mature investments in Sasol, Kumba and BHP?

Why are those Rand billions not leveraged to kickstart the economy?

I know of at least R5bn in non performing loans that were bad bet on day one with no hope of ever being successful. Some have been defunct for years and still not written off.

They need to appoint a better technical due diligence team. I am all for new tech etc but the rest of the business plan must make sense too.

End of comments.

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