South Africa: Banks in the Eye of the Storm


South Africa's banks have warned that profits will be hit as a result of the Covid-19 quarantine. They will not be alone.

Standard Bank has warned investors that it may not meet its financial targets, outlined just three weeks ago at the release of its annual results. At the time the bank was already pessimistic about the year ahead, warning investors that geopolitical risks (including the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak) and sustained economic weakness in South Africa could affect performance.

"While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold and countries respond to this crisis in different ways, there is a high degree of uncertainty regarding the impact it will have on Standard Bank's financial performance in the 2020 financial year," CEO Sim Tshabalala told investors on a conference call.

Similarly, companies like Sappi, Massmart, Sanlam, Nampak, Metair and Barloworld have warned investors that company performance is likely to be negatively affected as a consequence of actions taken to limit the spread of the virus.

The other big banks have not yet issued formal guidance to investors, but the conditions they face are no different.

"It is clear we are headed for extremely tough times," said Tshabalala. "We are aware that...

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