Tokyo Banking Correspondent
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Aug 28, 2014

S.Africa’s Woolworths buoyed as wealthy shoppers keep spending

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 28 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Woolworths
Holdings posted a double-digit rise in full-year profit
on Thursday as affluent shoppers kept spending on organic jam
and ostrich steaks despite the weak economy.

Woolworths, a food and clothing retailer similar to
Britain’s Marks and Spencer, is one of the industry’s
few recent strong performers, as most South African consumers
have been suffered under poor economic growth and rising debt.

Aug 20, 2014

Insight: How aggressive lending came back to bite South African bank Abil

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Unemployed South African construction worker Daniel isn’t sure how he fell so deeply in debt. All he knows is that African Bank Investments (ABLJ.J: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which was bailed out this month, kept offering him money and he kept taking.

“I can’t remember now, I can’t remember each and every cent I spent,” he said. At 62 and with a junior high school education, he admits he doesn’t understand how interest works.

Aug 20, 2014

How aggressive lending came back to bite South African bank Abil

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Unemployed South African
construction worker Daniel isn’t sure how he fell so deeply in
debt. All he knows is that African Bank Investments,
which was bailed out this month, kept offering him money and he
kept taking.

“I can’t remember now, I can’t remember each and every cent
I spent,” he said. At 62 and with a junior high school
education, he admits he doesn’t understand how interest works.

Aug 14, 2014

Standard Bank earnings flat after $80 mln China port hit

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 14 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Standard
Bank took an $80 million hit from its exposure to
suspected metal financing fraud in China, wiping out first-half
earnings growth at Africa’s largest lender.

Johannesburg-based Standard Bank, one several global lenders
ensnared by the scandal at the Qingdao port, said on Thursday it
was still unclear if further writedowns would be needed given a
lack of available information from China.

Aug 11, 2014

No contagion risk as bailed-out S.African bank’s shares halted

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 11 (Reuters) – Shares in bailed-out South
African lender African Bank Investments (Abil) were
suspended on Monday, as investors shrugged off a financial
meltdown that appeared to pose no wider risk to the banking
sector.

The central bank and commercial banks stepped in on Sunday
with a $1.6 billion plan to rescue Abil from a flood of bad
debts mostly racked up on risky payday loans to unsecured
borrowers.

Aug 10, 2014

South African central bank to oversee $940 million Abil rescue

PRETORIA, Aug 10 (Reuters) – South Africa’s central bank
stepped in to rescue unsecured lender African Bank Investments
on Sunday, placing it under external supervision and announcing
plans for a $940 million capital injection underwritten by local
lenders.

The rescue, which will see the South African Reserve Bank
acquire the lender’s 17-billion-rand ($1.6-billion) bad loan
portfolio, follows an investor exodus from African Bank
earlier this week after it warned of a full-year loss and said
it needed a massive capital raising.

Aug 7, 2014

Investors dump South Africa’s Abil bank, fearing losses too big to fix

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Investors fled African Bank
Investments on Thursday, sending its shares tumbling to
a near-20 year low as the South African lender looked unable to
plug a $790 million hole in its finances from a tide of
unsecured loans that have gone bad.

The bank, widely known as Abil, shocked the market on
Wednesday when it said it needed to raise 8.5 billion rand ($790
million) in new capital after warning of a massive annual loss,
following which its chief executive quit.

Aug 6, 2014

S.Africa’s Abil to seek $800 million cash call as CEO quits

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 6 (Reuters) – African Bank Investments
warned on Wednesday it needs to raise nearly $800
million after it flagged an annual loss and its chief executive
quit, prompting a shareholder to liken the South African
mass-market lender to a “bottomless pit”.

The news wiped out 60 percent of the bank’s value, with its
shares hitting their lowest level since 1997 on widening
concerns about its ability to ride out the downturn.

Aug 6, 2014

In Africa, haircare becomes a multi-billion dollar industry

ABUJA, Aug 6 (Reuters) – With all the skill of a master
weaver at a loom, Esther Ogble stands under a parasol in the
sprawling Wuse market in Nigeria’s capital and spins synthetic
fibre into women’s hair.

Nearby, three customers – one in a hijab – wait for a turn
to spend several hours and $40 to have their hair done, a hefty
sum in a country where many live on less than $2 a day.

Jul 24, 2014

S.Africa’s Alexander Forbes surges to $1 bln valuation on market return

JOHANNESBURG, July 24 (Reuters) – Shares in Alexander Forbes
surged 12 percent on their return to the Johannesburg bourse on
Thursday, valuing the retirement fund manager at almost $1
billion as it dazzled investors with the prospect of steady
earnings and growth across Africa.

The company, which was taken private by a group of investors
led by buyout firm Actis in 2007, returned to the bourse after a
3.7 billion rand ($353 million) public offering last week, South
Africa’s largest flotation in four years.

    • About David

      "David Dolan covers banks, consumer lenders and financial regulation in the world's second-largest economy. Before that, he covered Tokyo's stock market for Reuters and also did reporting stints on Capitol Hill and Chicago's City Hall. He was born in Ireland and grew up in Chicago."
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