News

Survival of The Fittest in A Battered Mining Sector

The slump in commodity prices over the past year has jolted the mining industry out of its comfort zone. The industry is in a different place right now, where everything is under scrutiny. The fittest and most well-managed companies will be those that survive.
 
So where are the opportunities and how do companies in the mining industry rise above harsh times that have affected them? Mike Simms and Olivier Barbeau offer some advice.

Pervasive Political Interference

The Companies Act 2008 introduced the key concept that a provision in a shareholder’s agreement that is inconsistent with the Companies Act and the company’s memorandum of incorporation (MOI) is void to the extent of the inconsistency. This was an about turn from the position under the previous Companies Act and the previous practice of shareholders, including a number of substantive provisions in a shareholder’s agreement, with little regard to the company’s memorandum and articles of association.

Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme In Respect of Offshore Assets and Income

On 24 February 2016 the National Treasury released a Media Statement announcing a Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP). According to the media statement, the purpose of the SVDP is to give non-compliant taxpayers an opportunity to voluntarily disclose offshore assets and income. The Common Reporting Standard (CRS), formally referred to as the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information, is an information standard for the automatic exchange of information (AEoI), developed in the context of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The legal basis for exchange of data is the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and the idea is based on the USA Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) implementation agreements.

Incentive for Employers to Provide Bursaries – No Effective Date of Implementation

“To support skills development, government proposes to increase the fringe benefit tax exemption thresholds for bursaries provided to employees or their relatives. The income eligibility threshold for employees to access the relief will be increased from R250 000 to R400 000. The value of qualifying bursaries will be increased from R10 000 to R15 000 for National Qualifications Framework levels 1 to 4, and from R30 000 to R40 000 for levels 5 to 10.”

Tax Treatment of Trusts

In his recent budget speech, Minister Gordhan made the following proposal:
 
“An important role of the tax system is to reduce inequality. Some taxpayers use trusts to avoid paying estate duty and donations tax. For example, if the founder of a trust sells his or her assets to the trust, and grants the trust an interest-free loan as payment, donations tax is not triggered and the assets are not included in his or her estate at death."

Retirement Reform Update

Three aspects of the retirement reform project have been postponed:
 
1.       The annuitisation of provident funds;
2.       The increase of the de minimis threshold; and
3.       The tax neutral portability from a pension to a provident fund.
 
This postponement is made possible by the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill, 2016, that was tabled in Parliament on 24 February 2016.  

Selling Your Business

Are you a small to medium-sized business owner? Selling your business is possibly not your priority right now, but in order to achieve a successful sale, you should start preparing early in order to optimise the value that you could receive. Let’s run through ten practical steps to help you achieve the best value on the ultimate sale of your business. Please note that this article is not in any way intended to be a technical treatise.

When Should I Establish a Risk Management or Internal Audit Function?

We are often asked the above question by organisations. Much like the answer to any business endeavour, the short and easy answer is when the value exceeds the cost. 
 
However, the value is not always very easy to measure. Contrary to, for example, the value derived from starting a new manufacturing line or upgrading a key piece of equipment which is visible in the short term, the value derived from appointing a top non-executive director, strengthening the finance function to enable meaningful data analysis or establishing an internal audit or risk management function, is over a longer term. In addition, value derived from establishing an internal audit or risk management function is much more difficult to quantify. 

The Imperative for Mining Companies to Micro-Manage Surface Right Entitlements

BACKGROUND TO THE RISKS
 
The mining industry is a complex integration of many disciplines, all of which, when aligned, contribute towards achieving the commercial targets of the enterprise. The risks are enormous but the rewards are satisfying. Amongst these risks, there are two fundamental issues that can have a fatal impact on the success of the operations – complications related to tenure and inaccurate databases.

Being A Director – What Is My Operational Role?

We are often asked about the operational responsibilities of directors. There is a large degree of subjectivity associated with the answer, and therefore no short, definitive answer that applies to all.  The importance of getting it right, however, cannot be overestimated.  Ask any executive about the frustrations and inefficiencies of a director getting it wrong towards the heavy end; and then ask any shareholder about the disappointments in a well-paid director being on the barely asleep side of involvement.  So how do some get it right, and what constitutes “right”?

New Regulatory Tax Reporting Requirements

In March 2016, the global version of the United States’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), also known as the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), will come into effect in South Africa. Both FATCA and CRS affect individuals, entities and financial institutions globally.

In essence, FATCA aims to combat US offshore tax evasion and recoup US tax revenues. It requires non-US financial institutions to provide the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with information relating to its clients who are US citizens (in South Africa this information flow is facilitated via SARS). 

Moore Stephens receives regular requests for Voluntary Disclosure assistance. Candice Olivier and Brett Abramowitz from Investec outlines some key points. 

Picking Up the Pieces

The Zuma Policy Error

The policy error made by President Jacob Zuma in December last year, when he fired Finance Minister Nene and replaced him with unknown Desmond van Rooyen, is still priced into our investment markets.  

Moore Stephens Mining Team at The Mining Indaba Cape Town 8 - 11 February 2016

We recognise the many challenges faced by businesses focused on the mining of coal, gold, iron ore and other natural resources.

Fluctuating commodity prices and currency values add greater complexity to the process of planning future operations. Persistently rising operating costs, not least through wage inflation in many regions, have increased pressure on margins and the need for efficiencies. Meanwhile, predicting demand has become more difficult with the slowdown in manufacturing growth in China, on the one hand, and continued growth of other developing nations on the other. 

INTEGRATED RESORT SCHEME / REAL ESTATE SCHEME IN MAURITIUS

Following the 2015 / 2016 Budget Speech, it may well be that there will be changes in the rules regarding ‘Integrated Resort Scheme’ (IRS). My understanding is that the IRS concept will be modified because it is considered a ‘ghetto for the rich’ by the new Government. Government policy is shifting towards a more inclusive concept of ‘smart cities’, accessible to all. Parliament has passed the Finance Act, concise copies of which will be made available.

IS YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER? YOUR HOLIDAY CHECKLIST

The holiday season is almost upon us, and with it an excellent opportunity to get your financial house in order. One of the keys to stress-free living in the holiday season is to make a financial checklist, suggests Managing Partner, Olivier Barbeau.
 
While all the festive detail is being sorted, serious financial stuff can go adrift and target dates missed. A pre-holiday financial to-do list is a top priority, or should be, for many of us. Most of these tasks can be accomplished quickly, but the benefits can last a lifetime.

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