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Biznews Global portfolio: After October's 14% wipeout, what now?

With the four year old Biznews Global Share portfolio peaking at an annualised return of 41% in September, hindsight suggests a correction was overdue. But when it arrived, the change in Mr Market's manic phase to one of deep depression came ever so quickly. Four of the portfolio's nine names took big hits in the month, led by the share price of its largest holding, Amazon.com, dropping some 22%. Biznews founder and the portfolio's manager Alec Hogg takes a close look at this stock in the...


Long4Life: Brian Joffe second act is a bet on SA's Rama-recovery

It’s exactly 30 years since chartered accountant Brian Joffe created Bidvest, a multinational conglomerate which peaked at a valuation of R160bn before the unbundling of its Foodservice arm. With that done, Joffe left his creation. But soon after leaving Bidvest he embarked on a second act called Long4Life. Investors loved the story of this experienced entrepreneur returning to the fray. Especially small punters who saw it as a chance to get in on the ground floor with a partner with...


Reviving memory of SA WW2 hero and activist that Nats wrote out of history

It’s over a decade since David Rattray was murdered at his famous Fugitives Drift Lodge. Historian Rattray was a masterful storyteller whose tales of the 1879 Anglo Zulu War, and particularly the historic battles of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift, built him a global following that attracted packed houses, especially in London. The obvious successor to the famous Rattray is chartered accountant turned storyteller Michael Charton, who works off a wider canvass, but like his fellow South...


VBS: A sickening Third World Ponzi scheme fuelled by politicians

Uncovering of the VBS scandal is a marvellous example of how the sophisticated, first world side of South Africa’s economy can be practically applied to the benefit of the entire nation. The plundering of a small mutual bank created in the Apartheid’s Venda homeland, was very third world in its application. Ditto the reaction of conspirators, whose defence was ignorance, or the concoction of obviously fabricated tales. But as the saga unfolds, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that...


Biographer Anthony Butler: Decoding enigma that is Cyril Ramaphosa

Biographies account for at least half the books I own, a legacy of long held fascination for learning about people, a subject to which I devote a good chunk of my leisure time. Latest investment was in a 413 page masterpiece by Anthony Butler - his superb biography on South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. Classically trained Butler, who read a PPE at Oxford and has a PhD from Cambridge, wrote the book in 2008 after taking a nine month sabbatical from the University of Cape Town, where...


Prologue to a Crash: Nene on why he resisted Zuma's nuclear folly

Listening to yesterday’s testimony by South African finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was riveting. It also forces the rational mind to ponder where the country would be if this modest man from rural KwaZulu Natal hadn’t stood up against the financial wrecking of former president Jacob Zuma and his cronies. The country was headed the same way as Turkey. And if Edrogan’s example is overlaid on SA, the currency would today be trading around R25 rather than R14 to the US Dollar; and interest...


Adrian Lackay: How Tom Moyane used lawyers, media to capture SARS

When future historians chronicle the beacons of resistance during South Africa’s destructive Zupta era, they are sure to be surprised by how much extraordinary courage was displayed by seemingly ordinary people. Adrian Lackay is one of the most obvious examples. Our paths first crossed more than a dozen years ago when SA’s tax collection agency SARS was in combat with serial entrepreneur Dave King, the once-time billionaire tax fugitive who disputed he owed anything but eventually made a...


Unpacking unintended consequences of Elon Musk's $7bn Tesla tweet

It’s been an insane six weeks for South African-born-and-bred super entrepreneur Elon Musk. At about two o clock in the afternoon on Tuesday 7th August, while he was on an aeroplane, the boy from Pretoria launched one of the most expensive tweets of all time. Musk’s assertion that he would be taking Tesla Motor Company private at $420 a share with “funding secured”, sent the share price soaring before a collapse to the current $300 – a market value loss of $7bn from the pre-tweet level...


Next week 10% tariff, next year 25% - Trump's trade war gets real

Most analysts had discounted the prospect of a trade war between Donald Trump’s America and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Even when high level talks broke down in May, Trump’s threats were interpreted a massive bluff in a high stakes poker game. He believed China would back down, make the required reforms and the world could get back to business. Those hopes have now been dashed. The world awakes this morning to news that from next week roughly half the $500bn in goods which America...


Peter Hain on Mandela, Ramaphosa and white South Africans

It’s always special to visit with Peter Hain, the anti-apartheid icon who had a highly successful half century in British politics. Last time I watched him deliver a killer speech in the House of Lords which smashed any hopes the Guptas had of slinking away into the shadows. This time he hosted me in Royal Gallery, a grand room through which Elizabeth the Second passes en route to her official throne where she delivers the annual Queen’s Speech, the official opening of the British...


Bill Browder, Putin's #1 enemy, warns SA: Recoil from Russia

I was first exposed to Bill Browder in 2006, at a hedge fund conference at Nice in the south of France. He was one of the star attractions, his Russia-focused Hermitage Fund, hailed as the best performing money fund in the world. Confident, brash, outspoken, Browder was riding a wave of the best kind of popularity - the adoration of your peers. The Bill Browder I met with in London this week was rather different. Self-contained, professional to the point of being a little guarded. Which...


Meet Chris Steyn author of nation-rocking Lost Boys of Bird Island

I’ve always been a huge fan of my former colleague Chris Steyn, having seen close up how she has always made exposing the truth her only priority, regularly speaking out against the powerful on behalf of those without a voice. Much has happened in the few weeks since the publication of the best-seller, most dramatically the suicide last month of her co-author Mark Minnie. Chris has also been the subject of sustained attacks by some of Afrikanerdom’s formerly powerful figures, including a...


Johann Rupert's "aha" moment sparks Reinet's R10bn share buyback

South Africa’s leading businessman, Johann Rupert, has taken the empire inherited from his father to another level. In 1988, just three years after joining his father Anton’s industrial group Rembrandt, Rupert junior created Richemont, today one of the world’s top luxury goods businesses. When Richemont restructured a decade ago, its 80m shares in British American Tobacco, some other investments and 350m euros in cash was injected in the newly established Reinet Investments, named after...


Elon's $420 a share bubble has burst: Why Tesla isn't going private anytime soon

Earlier this week, Elon Musk’s biggest fan in the investment world urged Tesla’s founder to stop his ideas of taking the company private. Catherine Wood of ARK Invest re-iterated her bullish earlier projections in an open letter on the money manager’s website where she reckons the company’s shares will be worth anything from $700 to $4,000 in five years. Musk, you may recall, threw any number of cats among Wall Street’s pigeons at the beginning of the month tweeting that he intended...


Disruptor Rowan Gormley: From Boksburg via Branson to Majestic

When I arrived for our interview at his farm near Bungay in Suffolk, Rowan Gormley, in shorts and a pink golf shirt, was busy watering plants in a small greenhouse. There was no indication from him that a few hours later he’d be hosting 300 people in a marquee set up between his homestead and the ruins of Mettingham Castle, built by one Sir John de Norwich in 1342. This historical structure might be on his grounds, but there’s nothing baronial about this fellow. As you’ll hear in what...


Paul O'Sullivan on court ruling ejecting NPA chief Shaun Abrahams: "Prosecution floodgates will now open."

Three years into a proposed ten year term, South Africa today ridded itself of the deeply tainted head of National Prosecuting Authority. Its Constitutional Court ruled that NPA head Shaun Abrahams - who has catapulted four levels into the top job from the legal equivalent of the backbenches - should never have been appointed in the first place. His elevation came after former president Jacob Zuma paid off the previous NPA head with a R17m golden handshake. According to former public...


As authorities start investigating, big bets in wake of Elon Musk's "Tesla going private" tweet

In the 30 years since he left the relative backwater of South Africa, Elon Musk has come to personify the American Dream: the brilliant, entrepreneurial immigrant transformed from pauper to billionaire through hard work and ingenuity. Musk has attracted fame and fortune through a series of audacious business adventures, always doubling up by risking his millions then billions on something still bigger. He has come close to being wiped out on a number of occasions, most famously when he bet...


Another big promise from Musk, but serious investors aren't biting, treat $82bn Tesla buyout as a joke

How did it all go so wrong between Musk and Wall Street? On a day when investors in his stock should be celebrating his promise to give them a quick profit, most just don’t believe him. The FT’s front page lead story mused that Musk might have been making a joke all along, with the $420 an all in-joke reference to April 20, a day celebrated by marijuana smokers. After all, over the past 15 years investors have injected billions of dollars into funding the Tesla dream, a company which has...


Man who saw the GFC coming, The Big Short star Steve Eisman, warns Tesla's bubble is going to burst

The fact that Tesla beat the Street's expectations by losing a couple hundred million dollars less than expected doesn’t change the reality that its cash pile is still shrinking. Indeed, all it seems to do is slightly postpone the day of reckoning – certainly not remove it. But Elon Musk’s Bitcoin-like following among supporters is such that no matter what he does, they keep the faith. Among those who warn they are playing a dangerous game is Steve Eisman, an expert spotter of bubbles, who...


The whitewashing of Zimbabwe’s ancient history

In the early 1970s, when I was 12 years old, my British immigrant father married a South African. Part of his integration was visiting her siblings, one of whom lived with his family in what was then called Fort Victoria, part of then recently independent Rhodesia. Beyond seeing television for the first time and marvelling at how many people drove Peugeots, the thing I remember most from that adventure was a visit to what the whites called the Zimbabwe Ruins, a short drive from the...