Herman Bosman. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Herman Bosman. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

RMB Holdings, which owns 34% of FirstRand and a property portfolio worth about R1bn, said on Thursday normalised earnings in the six months ended December 2018 grew 7% to R4.4bn despite “significant turbulence” in the macroeconomic environment. 

The group, which is the 16th-largest constituent of the JSE’s top-40 index and is headed by Herman Bosman, raised its dividend 6% to 178c a share.

FirstRand reported on Tuesday that its normalised earnings in the six months to end-December 2018 rose 7% to R13.3bn, thanks largely to gains from FNB. Its portfolio also houses Rand Merchant Bank and WesBank.

RMB Holdings said on Thursday its property business increased its net intrinsic value from R722m to R971m during the period, and contributed normalised profit of R15m, from a loss of R15m a year before.

The group said 2019 would be “another challenging year for the South African economy”.

“Headwinds include a slowing global economy, Eskom — and other state-owned entities — challenges, adverse domestic weather conditions in the western maize-growing areas of the country, prolonged strike activity in the gold mining sector and political uncertainty leading into the national election.”

The group said SA’s economy is expected to grow at just 1.4% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020.

Given SA’s weak growth outlook, better inflation prospects and less pressure to keep abreast of rising global interest rates, it said the SA Reserve Bank “may keep the repo rate unchanged in the foreseeable future”.

RMB Holdings said it would focus on diversifying its income streams in coming months.

It would consider investments in financial services firms, companies that could partner with itself and FirstRand, unlisted businesses and “digitally-oriented” firms.

It also plans to “optimise” its existing investments.

“We will dynamically assess which investments are optimally housed in RMB Holdings. In the past, similar assessments have led to the listing of Discovery, the merger of Momentum and Metropolitan, the listing of MMI and the unbundling of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings.”

The group’s shares were down 1.8% at R76.26 in early trade.