Shares in Sasol, the oil and chemical company, were trading at R310 at the beginning of January. Even before the global economy was battered by the coronavirus pandemic, the business was facing a number of difficulties linked to its multibillion-rand investment in an ethane cracker and chemical plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Cost overruns, production delays and high debt levels were chiselling away at projected returns, raising questions about the wisdom of the venture.

The plunge in the oil price that resulted from the financial challenges of the health crisis piled pressure on Sasol’s prospects and sent the share price plummeting to a low of R21 on March 23, down 93% on its value at the beginning of the year...

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