Foreign investors dumped R988 billion of South African stocks


It’s been nearly a decade of waning foreign interest in South African stocks, with outflows exceeding R932 billion ($50 billion) in that time. 

Last year was the eighth year in a row that foreign investors dumped South African equities – a record-long streak – selling stocks worth R154 billion ($8.3 billion).

That took the total since 2016 to R988 billion ($53 billion), based on data reported by exchange operator JSE.

The past decade has been a poor one for emerging markets as a whole, with MSCI’s benchmark index notching a gain of just over 3%. Yet the benchmark index in Johannesburg has done worse, losing almost 6% in dollar terms.

The rand, meanwhile, has fallen 42% in this time, a contrast with other developing nations where currencies have generally outperformed stock markets. 

Foreign investors have been wary of South Africa following a slew of corruption scandals, an energy crisis linked to the debt-ridden Eskom utility and a meltdown at Transnet, the state-run rail and ports operator, according to Ashish Chugh, portfolio manager at Loomis. 

Unemployment and high public debt are also challenges, especially in an upcoming election that’s expected to be the most competitive since South Africa became a democracy in 1994.

“This is an election year for South Africa, and we believe it will be a tight race. Investor sentiment could improve if the winning party introduces strong reforms and policies to address investor concerns,” Chugh said.


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