For business in SA, 2018 was reminiscent of the title of that old Andre Brink novel, Rumours of Rain. At first, it seemed this would be “the year of the rebound”, and it began full of hope. But in the end, the rain clouds remained just over the horizon. On the stock market, the movement from positive to negative was really enormous, with the all share dropping about 25% from its high to end in the red during the course of the year. In some ways, the best thing about 2018 was that it wasn’t 2017 when corporate scandals seemed to bounce out of nowhere, most notably, of course, the Steinhoff saga. Yet, 2017 did wash over into its successor, with some companies, notably SA’s second-largest property company Nepi Rockcastle, being hit by short sellers Viceroy just as Steinhoff was in late 2017. But there was something of a counter-story to this narrative this year, as consumer bank Capitec, once also a target of Viceroy in 2017, bounced back with vigour. Its share price is now higher than...

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