Flash Briefing: SA looks to China, Russia for Covid vaccine help; Gauteng Covid spike hits world headlines; Naspers; US

Written on 06/21/2021
Jackie Cameron

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  • China’s Covid-19 vaccine by Sinovac Biotech is set to be approved in South Africa soon, says the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. It said an application by Sinovac Biotech to have its Coronavac Covid-19 vaccine approved “is at a very advanced stage”, reports Bloomberg. So far, South Africa has only approved the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for use. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is also being evaluated. This news comes as world media outlets report on how South Africa, the worst-hit country in the continent, has reported a doubling of new daily cases over the past two weeks, with no sign of the rise slowing. The Guardian reports that Gauteng province – home to a quarter of the country’s population of 60 million as well as the administrative capital, Pretoria, and financial hub Johannesburg – is the centre of the latest outbreak, accounting for about 60% of the latest national daily increase. The Guardian tells its international audience that Gauteng hospitals and health workers are close to being overwhelmed. “One large hospital was shut earlier this year after a fire and other big facilities are closed because of a lack of trained staff. Doctors are making dozens of phone calls to secure a bed for critically ill patients.”
  • Prosus NV, the international investment arm of South Africa’s Naspers, reported a better than expected net profit of $7.45bn for 2021 on Monday, driven by strong returns from its big stake in Chinese software giant Tencent, reports Bloomberg. However, the company reported an operating loss of $1.04bn at the companies it owns around the globe in online marketplaces, food delivery and educational software. Prosus’ parent Naspers reported a 24% rise in reported core headline earnings per share. Naspers currently owns 73% of Prosus. The companies are seeking shareholder support to move to a cross-holding structure that would shift the bulk of their assets to Amsterdam while leaving Naspers in control. This is a proposal that has been strongly criticised by about three dozen south African asset managers, who would like Naspers and Prosus bosses to come up with a better idea to narrow the valuation gap between the share price and the company’s underlying value.
  • The extraordinary recovery of the US economy is likely to make the country the world’s top destination for overseas investment this year and next, according to new United Nations projections, with foreign businesses drawn by the prospect of a rapid and sustained rebound in consumer spending and the Biden administration’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plans. That’s according to BizNews Premium partner The Wall Street Journal, which shares UN figures published Monday. Overseas investments by businesses around the world fell by a third in 2020 from the previous year. “The US recorded a 40% fall in investment but narrowly held on to its long-held position as the top destination ahead of China. China remained the largest investor in the world, partly thanks to continued expansion of its Belt and Road infrastructure project during the pandemic,” it says. “Some developing countries saw a smaller decline in foreign investment than rich ones in 2020, but as wealthy countries inoculate large portions of the populations and reopen their economies, poor countries could struggle to attract new investment.”