Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 10 October 2018
After 18 years, Australia's Monash University will be pulling out of South Africa, selling out to JSE-listed education group Advtech in a R340 million deal.
 
Monash South Africa was registered in 2000, and markets itself as a local provider of degrees with international brand recognition. Its Johannesburg campus has a capacity of 6,500 students and features a number of student residences, popular among students from other African countries.
 
But the Monash name will disappear from that campus, its soon-to-be new owners say.
 
Advtech on Tuesday said it would pay R343 million for Monash South Africa, plus whatever cash on hand and working capital adjustments on the effective date of the acquisition.
 
That is very close to the R330 million net asset value Monash SA reported at the end of 2017.
 
Monash had been looking for a partner to take over the South African institution for some time, Coughlan says, and Advtech's track record gave Monash comfort that existing students would be well catered for.
 
Monash is Australia's biggest university. It also has a campus in Malaysia, and centres in India, China, and Italy.
 
Advtech is keen to roll out some of the registered Monash qualifications at its other tertiary institutions, which include Vega, Rosebank College, and Varsity College. Monash this year launched the first Bachelor of Engineering programme at a private institution reviewed by the Engineering Council of South Africa, and its MBA and public health qualifications are a good fit for the company, says Coughlan.
 
Advtech recently bought Oxbridge Academy and The Private Hotel School. Its fellow listed tertiary education group Stadio plans to create a "multiversity" for some 100,000 students in South Africa, and is looking to set up medical and engineering schools in the next three years.
Published in Business

Alfa Romeo's history as a carmaker is steeped in performance, a storied legacy highlighted by legendary Grand Prix racers, sexy road cars, and the intimate bond between man and machine.

Not exactly what comes to mind when considering most SUVs. But Alfa's Stelvio Quadrifoglio is no ordinary crossover, and its essence as a performance vehicle is, without question, very strong.

Viewed in isolation, the Stelvio QF is a practical driver's machine full of speed, feedback, and excitement. Yet what makes it a standout among other hot-rod utes are the very few exceptions it warrants when comparing the SUV to its sports-sedan sibling, the 10Best Cars–winning Giulia Quadrifoglio. Sure, its seating position is a smidge higher, and, at 4221 pounds, the Stelvio QF weighs 470 pounds more than the last Giulia QF we evaluated. But the similarity between their on-road demeanors verges on uncanny.

Photo credit: Chris Amos - Car and Driver

An Italian Delicacy
Upgraded from their standard 280-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinders, both sedan and SUV Alfa Quadrifoglios are powered by the same Ferrari-derived, twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 churning out 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque accompanied by a rambunctious exhaust note. Both feature the same snappy ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. And both can blast through traffic with undeniable poise and change direction with deft control. The Stelvio QF is primarily a rear-driver until its computers detect the need to route up to 60 percent of the engine's torque to the front axle to prevent slippage. Stand on the brake pedal from a standstill and feed in the power to prime the drivetrain for maximum launch, and this SUV's rear wheels will slowly begin to rotate while the fronts stay put.

The Stelvio also shares the Giulia's rather mediocre interior materials and build quality for a vehicle of this price, as well as a somewhat clumsy infotainment system operating through an 8.8-inch center screen and a console-mounted rotary control knob. But the crossover's body-hugging front sport seats are just as cosseting as the sedan's, and you get a similarly thin-rimmed steering wheel that precisely communicates a pleasant amount of feedback from the front tires. Large, column-mounted shift paddles click through the transmission's gears with satisfying quickness, particularly as you move up from the default Natural driving mode to Dynamic and Race (there's also a lazy Advanced Efficiency mode at the other end of the console-mounted dial).

Photo credit: Chris Amos - Car and Driver

Adaptive dampers return excellent body control and notably taut ride quality in any of the modes, with the system limiting you to the two firmest settings in the spiciest Race setup for the chassis and drivetrain. The ride isn't unduly harsh, but a tad more compliance would be welcome on poorly maintained roads. Similarly, we wish the Alfa's active exhaust system had an independent control toggle instead of merely growing progressively louder and snarlier as you step up through the driving modes. This Italian's boosted 90-degree V-6, with its raspy blats on aggressive upshifts, is a treat to uncork even in relaxed cruising.

Blazing a Path
Starting at $81,590-$6295 more than the Giulia QF-and turning in a quarter-mile pass of 12.0 seconds at 115 mph (with a 3.4-second zero-to-60-mph time), our Stelvio was one of the quickest crossovers we've ever tested. It's also the best speed-per-dollar value in the current SUV universe, undercutting the similarly rapid 707-hp Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk by $6105. (A separate Stelvio QF we tested in California, during which it vanquished the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S coupe and the Porsche Macan Turbo in a comparison test, was fractionally quicker at 3.3 seconds to 60 mph and 11.8 at 117 mph in the quarter.)

Shod with sticky Pirelli P Zero PZ4 performance tires on 20-inch wheels, the Alfa's 0.94 g of lateral grip on the skidpad and 157-foot stopping distance from 70 mph also are at the sharp end of its field. The considerably lighter Giulia QF may be about 20 seconds quicker around the daunting 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife, but the Stelvio QF's 7-minute-51.7-second lap still tops the charts for production SUVs.

Photo credit: Chris Amos - Car and Driver

The Investment
Adding $8000 to our test vehicle's window sticker were a set of Brembo carbon-ceramic rotors in place of the standard iron discs. While we didn't notice any discernible difference in feel or performance between the two setups, the Stelvio's brake pedal remains reassuringly firm after repeated abuse and is a touch smoother in actuation than the overly grabby stoppers on our long-term Giulia Quadrifoglio. Unless you're allergic to brake dust or plan on regularly partaking in track days, skip the fancy brakes and pocket the extra gas money, 'cause you'll need it. Our test car's dismal 16-mpg fuel-economy average, 1 mpg less than its EPA city estimate, can at least partially be blamed on our wanting to hear the engine angrily rip through its powerband at full attack.

Additional extras that contributed to our example's $93,340 as-tested price include the $1500 Driver Assist Dynamic Plus package (adaptive cruise control, forward-collision and lane-departure warnings, and auto high-beam headlights), a $1350 panoramic sunroof, a $600 coat of Montecarlo Blue Metallic paint, $400 for a carbon-fiber-trimmed steering wheel, and the $200 Convenience package (an AC power outlet and cargo-area tie-down rails and netting).

As with our mechanically near-identical long-term Giulia QF, which has spent a significant amount of time in our dealer's service center during its first 10,000 miles, we'd be remiss if we didn't note reliability as one of our greater concerns of Stelvio Quadrifoglio ownership. While more than a few classic Alfa owners will say that's part of the Alfa Romeo experience, we find it more endearing that an all-wheel-drive utility vehicle with a decent 19 cubic feet of cargo space (57 cubes with the rear seats folded down) can look this sharp and drive this well. Potential mechanical issues aside, Alfa's Stelvio QF is one of the greatest rebuttals to the idea that our increasingly SUV-filled future has to be boring.

 

From Car and Driver

Published in Engineering

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube says the government is committed to preserving the value of electronic balances at the current rate of exchange of 1 to 1, in order “to protect people’s savings.”

“Government recognise concerns surrounding RTGS deposits, and we commit to preserve the value of these balances on the current rate of exchange of 1 to 1, in order to protect people’s savings,” Ncube said in a statement on Wednesday after some business started demanding payment in US dollars only while some retailers have suspended sales as the value of the electronic dollars and the surrogate bond note currency have plunged on the black market.

Zimbabwe abandoned its hyperinflation ravaged currency in 2009 and adopted a basket of multi-currencies anchored on the US dollar, but gripped by acute shortages of cash dollars since 2016.

Last week, the central bank brought back foreign currency accounts (FCAs) to separate local electronic transfers and foreign inflows and US dollars, leading to a panic in the market.

Ncube said there was a “need for an orderly currency reform programme that will be followed when the economic fundamentals” and that the multi-currency system will continue.

“This system entails that foreign exchange earners are not prejudiced of their regulatory foreign exchange receipts and that those who do not earn foreign exchange have access to foreign exchange through the banking system as is per the current policy of foreign exchange management system. In parallel, the Reserve Bank shall continue to maintain adequate resources for the import of essential commodities,” he said.

He said apart from the $500 million Nostro Deposit Protection Guarantee from Afreximbank, he was also “reinforcing Nostro foreign currency accounts with a statutory instrument to guarantee that these are private deposits, and neither the Reserve Bank nor government has any access to them.”

 

- The Source

Published in Economy
The European Central Bank reportedly wants to crack down on a practice known as "back-to-back" booking after Brexit.
 
The process effectively sees banks and other institutions carry out business in one market, but book that activity in another.
Many in the City believed the continued use of back-to-back booking would have helped London retain its European financial crown after Brexit.
 
The European Central Bank reportedly wants to crack down on a practice that many in the City believe would have helped London retain its European financial crown after Brexit.
The ECB has written to major financial institutions to urge them to decrease their reliance on the use of the so-called "back-to-back" booking of trades and loans, according to a report in the Financial Times on Monday.
 
The process effectively sees banks and other institutions carry out business in one market, but book that activity in another. For example, a bank might carry out a piece of business in Paris, but transact it in London.
 
Many financial institutions have reportedly been planning on using back-to-back booking as a means of continuing to centralise many of their European activities in London even after the UK loses its financial "passporting" rights during Brexit.
 
The ECB, however, appears to be pouring cold water on these plans. The FT's report suggests that the ECB will give financial institutions until 2022 to "limit their reliance" on the use of the practice.
 
This hard stance on back-to-back trades from the ECB, which is now the ultimate arbiter of European banking regulations, seems to be at odds with the words of Andrea Enria, the head of the European Banking Authority.
 
Banks "may use back-to-back transactions or intragroup transactions to transfer a part of the risks to a non-EU-EEA entity," Enria said in an interview with the FT in September, adding that there would be "no ban" on back-to-back booking.
 
The ECB's apparent clampdown on back-to-back booking could be bad news for major financial institutions that were planning on using the system as a means of keeping large sections of their EU business in operation from the UK after Brexit, and could increase the number of staff banks need to move from London.
 
After early predictions of top losses in the tens of thousands for the City, most financial institutions have pulled back from such forecasts, with major lenders currently expecting to move just hundreds of staff to other European financial centres - including Dublin, Frankfurt, and Paris - on day one of Brexit.
 
 
Source: London News-Express
Published in Bank & Finance
The rand has been on a seesaw over the past 24 hours hitting above R15 to the US dollar.
 
Currently the rand is at High R14.60 Low R14. 57 to the greenback.
 
The rand has been under pressure for the past few weeks with ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch citing continued political uncertainty.
 
Rising US interest rates have also had a profound effect on the rand which has plunged to levels last seen in 2016.
 
The local currency has also been volatile this week with economists concerned about the medium-term budget speech later this month.
 
All eyes will be on former Reserve Bank governor and now Finance Minister Tito Mboweni with rating agencies calling for more stability and transparency at the highest level.
 
 
Source: News24
Published in Bank & Finance
There are few things more liberating than travel -- although some passports offer more freedom than others.
A new report published October 9, 2018, reveals just how many borders some travel documents can cross.
According to the Henley Passport Index, compiled by global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & PartnersCitizens, Japan now has the most powerful passport on the planet.
Having gained visa-free access to Myanmar earlier this month, Japanese citizens can now enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to a whopping 190 destinations around the world -- knocking Singapore, with 189 destinations, into second place.
Germany, which began 2018 in the top spot, is now in third place with 188 destinations, tied with France and South Korea.
Uzbekistan lifted visa requirements for French nationals on October 5, having already granted visa-free access to Japanese and Singaporean citizens in early February.
South Korea gained visa-free access to Myanmar on October 1, while Paraguay removed visa requirements for Singaporean passport holders in 2017.

Movers and shakers

The United States and the UK, both with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 186 destinations, are in fifth place. With neither having gained entry to any new jurisdictions this year, it seems unlikely that either will soon reclaim the No.1 spot they held in 2015.
Russia has fallen to 47th position, despite having received a boost in September when Taiwan announced a visa-waiver for Russian nationals.
The United Arab Emirates is the decade's biggest success story when it comes to travel freedom. It's risen from 62nd place in 2006 to now being No. 21 in the rankings.
It's also recently signed a visa-waiver agreement with Russia, due to come into effect in the coming months.
China recently obtained access to St. Lucia and Myanmar and is now in 71st place, having climbed 14 places since the start of 2017.
Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, commented in a statement on "the extraordinary results that states can achieve when they work hand in hand with their global peers to build a more interconnected and collaborative world.
"China and the UAE exemplify this kind of progress, with both states among the highest overall climbers compared to 2017, purely as a result of the strong relationships they have built with partner countries around the world."

Henley Passport Index power ranking

1. Japan: 190
2. Singapore: 189
3. Germany, France, South Korea: 188
4. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Spain: 187
5. Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, United States: 186
6. Belgium, Switzerland, IrelandCanada: 185
7. AustraliaGreece, Malta: 183
8. New Zealand, Czech Republic: 182
9. Iceland: 181
10. Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia: 180
So which passports offer the least mobility?
Joint last place on the updated Henley Passport Index list are Afghanistan and Iraq, with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 30 jurisdictions, just below Syria and Somalia (32) and Pakistan (33).

Other indexes

Henley & Partner's list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.
The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.
Arton Capital's Passport Index takes into consideration the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories -- ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.
Its 2018 index put Singapore and Germany on top, with a score of 165, followed by Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Italy, France, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea and the US, all with a score of 164.
The Nomad Passport Index, meanwhile, ranks 199 citizenships on five factors: visa-free travel, international taxation, perception, dual citizenship and personal freedom.
According to its 2017 list, the most desirable passports come from Sweden, followed by Belgium. Spain and Italy tied for third, with Ireland rounding out the top five.
 
Source: (CNN)
Published in Travel & Tourism
The South African economy is in the midst of its longest business cycle downturn in more than 73 years, according to the Reserve Bank, and things aren't looking particularly favourable right now either.
 
The adverse business climate has impacted the stock market too this year, seeing listed companies declining year-to-date on the whole. 
 
According to analysis done by Corion Capital, a boutique hedge fund manager, 60% of listed counters had depreciated by the end of September, with more than a third slumping in excess of 15%. Only 16% of the stocks in the All Share Index gained more than 15% this year to end-September.
 
Topping the list of poor performers are Tiger Brands, off more than 40%, two healthcare companies, Aspen and Mediclinic, MTN, and Woolworths.
 
Performance of the top 40 JSE shares. Tiger Brands and Aspen were the biggest losers, while Sasol and BHP Billiton were the top performers. (Corion Capital)
 
Performance of the top 40 JSE shares. Tiger Brands and Aspen were the biggest losers, while Sasol and BHP Billiton were the top performers. (Corion Capital)
 
And the sharp sell-off has continued into October, with only the Resource Index managing to gain ground last week and the Banks Index hardest hit, losing 7%.
 
Garreth Montano, a director of Corion Capital, puts the bout of negativity swamping investor sentiment this year down to:
 
- Low GDP growth. South Africa has unfortunately missed out on a resurgence in the world economy and has been left well behind in terms of GDP growth. The reasons behind the sluggish performance of the domestic economy can be debated at length, but many view the Zuma era as a large contributor to the underperformance of SOEs, heightened corruption, lack of job creation and lack of investor confidence in attracting foreign direct investment.
 
- The land debate and mining charter have further dented prospects of new investment, which would aid growth as well as assist in creating new jobs. All of which are dearly needed.
 
- Many commentators believe that president Ramaphosa’s hands are tied until general elections, and the righting of the ship and benefits to the economy will start gaining momentum once there is more clarity around the land issue and elections are behind us.
 
To add to these internal challenges, emerging markets, as a whole, have had a difficult 2018, being largely led down by the crises in Turkey and Argentina. Trade wars have also had a negative effect, creating concerns about a drag on emerging markets exports due to potential for tariff impositions by the US, Montano says.
 
Locally the negative sentiment towards broader emerging markets has played out in large outflows fromn our bond market, as well as foreigners selling off equities, says Montano. Last week almost R6bn alone was taken out of South Africa by foreign investors.
 
These disinvestments have also played out in currency markets, driving the rand dramatically lower to more than R15 to the dollar at stages compared with its peak of almost R11.50 in February this year.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in News Economy

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