COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the South African economy, and nowhere was this more evident than in the run up to the 2020 financial report soon to be released by Sun International. The South African gaming and hospitality giant was forced to inform its investors that basic earnings per share for Full Year 2020 were expected to be a loss of around R10 per share.
According to Sun International: “The Covid-19 pandemic significantly impacted the Group’s results for the year ended 31 December 2020, following the prolonged closure of many of its operations during the year, as a result of the lockdowns imposed by Government in terms of the Disaster Management Act”. The share loss is in sharp contrast to the basic earnings profit of around R5 per share seen in 2019.
As a result of particularly tough trading conditions, Sun International has written down assets in South Africa by R1.3 billion – including its flagship Sun City property, as well as Boardwalk and Maslow Sandton.
According to Business Day, Sun International almost doubled the number of its shares in issue last year. In August 2020, the group completed a R1.2 billion right offer that increased its shares from 136.7 million to 263.9 million.
It was also in August last year that Sun International agreed to sell its nearly 65% stake in the Latin American operation Sun Dreams to its partner Nuevo Inversiones Pacifico Sur for the sum of R2.7 billion. Nuevo made a takeover offer to Sun International, placing a per share value at R22. However, two of Sun International’s largest investors, namely Value Capital Partners and Allan Gray, rejected this takeover offer.
Sun Dreams has also been written down by R612 million by Sun International. Over the past two years, Sun International’s shares have fallen more than two thirds. Yesterday, shares were down 2.5% to R15.10. Over the past six months, they have recovered by around 26%.
Unofficial sources have reported that Sun International lost more than R2.2 billion in the first months of COVID-19 last year. Among the numbers reported, it was shown that GrandWest in South Africa took a revenue knock of R543 million between March and June, 2020. Pretoria’s Times Square lost nearly R400 million, while Sun City also lost more than R425 million.
Nevertheless, the message that has always come out of Sun International is that the public’s health comes first, and the group has adapted to the ongoing pandemic and constant lockdowns. Since the beginning, Sun International has implemented all the health restrictions ordered by the government, including social distancing, mask wearing and sanitization.
At present, only MVG cardholders are allowed onto casino floors at Sun International properties. It is mandatory to wear masks at all times and a distance of 1.5 meters has to be kept from other patrons and employees.
In August 2020, Sun International announced that it was planning to cut 3,300 jobs in South Africa and Chile as part of a restructuring plan to survive the pandemic. The hotel and casino industry in South African and around the world has been one of the hardest hit as lockdown restrictions came into effect.