Business Day South Africa
Epic to sue Apple and Google over Fortnite game’s removal from app stores - Business Day
Epic says Apple has become what it once railed against: ‘the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation’
Apple and Alphabet's Google removed popular video game Fortnite from their app stores on Thursday for violating the in-app payment guidelines, prompting developer Epic Games to file federal antitrust lawsuits challenging their rules. Apple and Google cited a direct payment feature rolled out on the Fortnite app earlier in the day as the violation. Epic sued in US court seeking no money from Apple or Google, but rather injunctions that would end many of the companies' practices related to their app stores. Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear, Epic said in its lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California. Epic also attacked Apple on social media, launching a campaign with the hashtag #FreeFortnite, urging players to seek refunds from Apple if they lose access to the game, and creating a parody of Apple's famous 1984" television advert. In the parody, which quickly achieved hundreds of thousands of views, a female Fortnite fighter hurls a unicorn-shaped club to smash a screen on which an Apple-headed character speaks of the anniversary of the platform unification directives. Apple takes a cut of between 15% and 30% for most app subscriptions and payments made inside apps, though there are some exceptions for companies that already have a credit card on file for iPhone customers if they also offer an in-app payment that would benefit Apple. Analysts believe games are the biggest contributor to spending inside the App Store, which is in turn the largest component of Apples $46.3bn-per-year services segment. In a statement, Apple said Fortnite was removed because Epic had launched the payment feature with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines after having had apps in the store for a decade. The fact that their [Epic] business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users, Apple said. Google also removed Fortnite from its Play Store, but the company's spokesperson Dan Jackson declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by Reuters. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play, he said in a statement. Jackson said Epic violated a rule requiring developers to use Googles in-app billing system for products within video games. Apple and Google were among the major US technology companies to come under anticompetition scrutiny in a hearing before legislators in July. During the hearing, Apple CEO Tim Cook argued that Apple was not anticompetitive because it did not have majority share in any markets where it operates, including mobile phones, where devices powered by Alphabets Android have greater market share. Epics lawsuit, however, argued that app distribution and in-app payments for Apple devices constitute their own distinct market for anticompetition purposes because Apple users rarely leave its sticky ecosystem. Epics free-to-play battle-royal video game Fortnite has reached huge popularity among young gamers since its launch in 2017, and competes with Tencent Holdings PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds. The titles removal from the App Store means that new players will not be able to download it and that existing players cannot receive updates, but the game should continue to work on devices where it is already installed. Epic Games does not disclose how many iOS users Fortnite has. Many fans play the game primarily on PCs or gaming consoles while using their mobile phones as a backup, but iPhone users generate far more revenue for Epic. In both Apples App Store and Googles Play Store, Fortnite had about two-million downloads in July 2020, according to mobile analytics firm SensorTower. But Apple users spent about $34m while Android users spent only $2m, according to SensorTower data. Because Android functions differently from iOS, users can still download Fortnite from Epic's website and other nonGoogle stores such as the one run by Samsung Electronics and install it on their devices, Epic said in a blog post on Thursday. Epic is not seeking any monetary relief, but rather only an order enjoining Google from continuing to impose its anticompetitive conduct on the Android ecosystem, it said in its lawsuit. In a statement, Spotify Technology, a streaming music rival to Apple that has filed an antitrust complaint against the iPhone maker in Europe, applauded Epics move. Apples unfair practices have disadvantaged competitors and deprived consumers for far too long, Spotify said. Reuters
Covid-19: Cyril Ramaphosa gets a pat on the back from the WHO - Business Day
SA responded quickly and did ‘all the right things’, says regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti
SA responded quickly and did all the right things, says regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti 13 August 2020 - 20:21 Lukanyo Mnyanda As President Cyril Ramaphosa prepared to ease most of the restrictions that have devastated the economy, the governments handling of the Covid-19 outbreak won the backing of the World Health Organisations (WHO) most senior representative in Africa. The country responded quickly with the types of interventions that we have seen in other countries and that the WHO has recommended, Matshidiso Moeti, the organisations regional director for Africa, said in an online briefing during a visit to Johannesburg on Thursday. They did all the right things.
Why it’s never too early to sign up for life and risk cover - Business Day
Lifestyle diseases are becoming more worrying and costly — and Covid-19 is already being felt by insurers
Looking at the 2019 claims statistics of long-term life insurers Sanlam, Old Mutual, Momentum Life and Discovery Life it is clear that its never too early to sign up for risk cover such as life insurance, and severe illness and funeral cover. Momentum Lifes statistics show its youngest income protection claimants were a 23-year-old man who qualified for 12 months of payouts while recovering from a car accident and a 24-year-old woman who received compensation while recovering from a surgery. Momentum is also paying claims for those who have enjoyed long lives. 2019 was the ninth consecutive year during which we made claim payouts for centenarians, with a total of eight death claims paid for clients over the age of 100. The oldest client for whom a death claim was paid out was a male client aged 104, says George Kolbe, head of marketing for Momentum Retail Life Insurance. Sanlam revealed that the most income protection claims for 2019 (38%) were paid to people aged 36 to 45, followed by 19% paid to those aged 26 to 35. In the same period, the most sickness claims were paid to people aged 26 to 45. Year on year, we see an increase in claims related to diseases of lifestyle [diabetes, high blood, cholesterol, etc] and this confirms the public health warning that diseases of lifestyle are becoming more worrying and costly, notes Dr Marion Morkel, chief medical officer at Sanlam. Kresantha Pillay, Libertys lead specialist for Lifestyle Protector, says 26% of the groups total income protection claims were paid out to people in the age band 31 to 40. A further 7% was paid out to those aged 20 to 30. Increase in claims stemming from psychiatric conditions Momentum says the most income protection claims were for women aged 40 to 49, and the main cause was related to mental illnesses, such as major depression and anxiety. This tied in with Old Mutuals 2019 statistics which highlighted psychiatric conditions as the biggest cause for disability claims. Of the total disability claims paid out, 11% were related to psychiatric disorders representing a 59% increase since 2016. The increase in claims for psychiatric disorders was already emerging before Covid-19, so it is very likely that mental health conditions may increase even more due to the widely reported coronavirus-related stresses, says John Kotze, head of protection products at Old Mutual. Kolbe concurs, saying that Covid-19 is likely to create an increase in claims over the next year. Alarming increase in suicide claims Momentum Lifes top causes for death claims in 2019 were cancer, cardiovascular diseases and unnatural deaths at 32%, 30% and 17%, respectively. Kolbe says there was an alarming increase of 65% in the number of suicide claims, with men accounting for 88% of these. Cassey Chambers, operations director at the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, notes that the suicide rate is an indication of how many people are completely overwhelmed by their problems and feel that suicide is the only option. Typically suicide is excluded on most life insurance policies, which means that the policy will not pay out if you commit suicide. However, this exclusion is usually contingent on a waiting period of two years. Once the two-year period has expired, the exclusion no longer applies. The exclusion clause and waiting period will vary between insurers. The Covid-19 effect Kolbe says that, although the impact of Covid-19 on critical illness claims is still uncertain, Momentum has identified a number of events where it expects future claims to arise:
- An increase in death claims over the next few months.
- More claims on income protection benefits, particularly those with shorter waiting periods.
- More retrenchment-related claims.
Mkhwebane lambasted in court over apartheid-era comparison - Business Day
The public protector has come under fire for comparing rules that will be used to conduct an impeachment inquiry against her to the ‘Sobukwe clause’
The public protector has come under fire for comparing rules that will be used to conduct an impeachment inquiry against her to the Sobukwe clause 12 August 2020 - 13:10 Karyn Maughan Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has come under fire from Western Cape High Court judge Vincent Saldanha for comparing the rules that will be used to conduct an impeachment inquiry against her to the Sobukwe clause apartheid-era legislation used to arbitrarily extend the imprisonment of PAC leader Robert Sobukwe. How can you make the analogy that this parliament would make rules akin to what the apartheid parliament did? the judge asked Mkhwebanes advocate, Dali Mpofu, during a virtual hearing held on Wednesday morning.
Northam generates record annual financial results - Business Day
The group misses out on record production, but steady output reaps the benefit of sharply higher PGM prices
Northam Platinum will deliver record annual financial results despite losing more than 100,000oz of platinum group metals (PGMs) in the lockdown of the SA economy for the last quarter of its year. Northam, which is growing production aggressively at a number of projects, said on Wednesday that it had generated record sales revenue, operating profit and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) for the year to end-June. It will report results on August 28. It advised shareholders the company had generated significant free cash during the year. Northam forfeited production of 108,685oz of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold after the government ordered a hard lockdown of the SA economy at the end of March and gradually eased restrictions on mining in April and then again in June, allowing a return to full operations. Prior and up to the commencement of the lockdown period, the group was on track to achieve record production from own operations during financial year 2020, Northam said. Northam forecast its basic and headline earnings per share would be 562c-622c compared with 17c and 16c respectively in the year before. To give an accurate insight into the companys financials, the distortion created by Zambezi preference shares, which are an instrument underpinning a R4bn 2015 empowerment transaction, are generally excluded to give a normalised earnings number. Northam said its normalised headline earnings for the year would be between 624c and 690c from 270c before. Northam incurred R977m of one-off costs related to payment of salaries during the lockdown and it warned that production costs were negatively impacted by lower production levels, as operating costs continued close to pre-lockdown levels. Net debt of R3.3bn by end-June gave Northam a net debt to ebitda ratio of well below one-to-one times, it said. Northam kept its production steady at 515,370oz of PGMs for the year, missing its output target, but keeping the disruptions from the lockdown to a minimum. Metal available for sale was boosted by a threefold increase in purchased metal of more than 72,400oz of the four metals. Sales remained flat at 582,686oz, while the price increased by 79%. As the lockdown was eased, surface mining, where it is easier to implement social distancing, was allowed to return to full production ahead of underground mining. The highly mechanised Booysendal mine and surface mining at Eland allowed Northam to quickly restart operations, while its underground Zondereinde mine was at 80% of capacity by the end of June. Zondereinde will reach normalised output after December, Northam said, noting a corresponding reduction to our financial 2021 production estimate. Growth projects at all three mining centres were on track, it said. Northam restructured its debt profile during the year, pushing back repayment dates and lowering the interest costs. Northam is pouring money into buying Zambezi preference shares, which reduces interest payments the company makes on these shares and reduces its exposure to these instruments. The JSE-listed preference shares, due for redemption in cash and/or shares in May 2025, attract dividends equal to the prime lending rate in SA plus 3.5% calculated daily and compounded annually Northam holds nearly 41% of these preference shares, paying on average a 2.2% premium to purchase them, it said. [email protected]
Ramaphosa’s envoys leave Zimbabwe after ‘opposition meeting blocked’ - Business Day
President Mnangagwa arm-twisted the agenda of the meeting with South Africans to suit himself, says insider
President Mnangagwa arm-twisted the agenda of the meeting with South Africans to suit himself, says insider 11 August 2020 - 23:08 Kevin Samaita President Cyril Ramaphosas special envoys to Zimbabwe left the neighbouring country empty handed after they were blocked by the government from meeting the opposition, sources close to the visit told Business Day Tuesday night. Ramaphosa sent former speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete and former ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi on a fact-finding mission on the crisis in Zimbabwe. But the mission proved to be a damp squib after the envoys were blocked from meeting opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
Booze ban risks trade deal - Business Day
EU liquor lobbyists not happy about skewing of balance in SA's biggest trade treaty
EU liquor lobbyists not happy about skewing of balance in SA's biggest trade treaty 09 August 2020 - 00:20 CAIPHUS KGOSANA SA's continued ban on the sale of alcohol could threaten its biggest trade deal - the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed with the EU. An organisation representing spirit makers and agri-product exporters in Europe is complaining that the local ban on alcohol sales is fast leading to a trade imbalance in relation to SA's wine exports and spirit imports.
Eskom moves to recover funds allegedly stolen by Molefe, Koko and the Guptas - Business Day
As a result of their action in the acquisition of Optimum Coal, Eskom suffered at least R3.8bn in losses
As a result of their action in the acquisition of Optimum Coal, Eskom suffered at least R3.8bn in losses 03 August 2020 - 14:22 Carol Paton Eskom and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) issued summons to recover R3.8bn of stolen funds from its former executives, nonexecutive directors and the Gupta family, on Monday. Among the executives named are former CEO Brian Molefe; former acting CEO Matshela Koko; former CFO Anoj Singh; and legal head Suzanne Daniels. Directors who have been summonsed are former chair Ben Ngubane, Chwayita Mabude and Mark Pamensky. Former minister of mineral resources and serving MP Mosebenzi Zwane has also been named in the summons.
MTN’s Rob Shuter appointed CEO of BT Enterprise - Business Day
As Shuter moves to the UK, the new MTN Group CEO is expected to be announced in the next four to eight weeks
Outgoing MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter will head up the enterprise unit of UK telecommunications giant British Telecom (BT) when he steps down from his current role in 2021. MTN said it expected to announce Shuter's successor in the next four to eight weeks. He is due to step down in March 2021 and join BT Enterprise as CEO. The process will allow for a seamless handover to his successor, the company said in a statement on Friday. Shuter replaced Sifiso Dabengwa after the latter resigned in 2016 following a $5.2bn dispute with Nigerian authorities that exposed operational flaws in Africa's biggest mobile operator. He will leave the company in the midst of executing a turnaround strategy he formulated. Like CFO Ralph Mupita, Shuter comes from the world of financial services. Since his appointment, the company has focused on growing its fintech business in an attempt to diversify away from voice, with the company now boasting over 40-million on its mobile money platform. The statement came as the mobile operator said it will report an earnings increase of up to 170% for the six months to June 2020. It expects to report growth in earnings per share (EPS) of between 160% and 170%, or 660c to 686c. Headline earnings per share (HEPS), a widely used measure that strips out special items, is expected to be between 115% and 125% higher than the 195c seen in the corresponding period in 2019, or 419c to 439c. MTN said EPS benefited from gains of 341c on the disposal of the American Tower Company (ATC) Uganda and ATC Ghana tower joint ventures in March, while HEPS benefited from non-operational items of about 46c per share, of which more than half related to foreign exchange gains, with the rand having weakened more than 17% against the dollar so far in 2020. A change in accounting policies resulted in MTN registering a 47c gain in EPS from the ATC deals but this had no effect on HEPS. After initially weakening as much as 6.4% MTNs shares on the JSE closed 2.46% lower at R59.14, following a 5.75% drop on Thursday, which was its biggest in about seven weeks. Update: July 31 2020This article had been updated with share price and other information throughout. [email protected]
Eased restrictions bring slight relief for tourism and hospitality sector - Business Day
New concession likely to be insufficient to stem crisis in a sector facing the loss of more than 400,000 jobs and R80bn in foreign receipts
COVID-19 LOCKDOWN New concession likely to be insufficient to stem crisis in a sector facing the loss of more than 400,000 jobs and R80bn in foreign receipts 30 July 2020 - 23:38 LUYOLO MKENTANE In a bid to provide relief to the countrys battered tourism and hospitality industry, the government has eased some of the restrictions that hammered parts of a sector that was one of the few bright spots, growing and creating jobs, before the outbreak of Covid-19. According to new regulations, people will now be allowed to book hotel accommodation for leisure in their own provinces, while restaurants can stay open later after the curfew imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier in July was moved to start an hour later than was first announced.