Resisting pressure from investors to expand at all costs has insulated Massmart from the dramatic fallout in many oil-dependent African countries, says CEO Guy Hayward. For years, Massmart has been slammed for its sluggish expansion plan, while some rivals, such as Shoprite, have marched across the continent and brought back enormous returns. This manifested in sharply different trajectories: while Shoprite’s share price soared 551% over 10 years, Massmart’s stock rose only 70%. Shoprite gets 17% of its sales outside SA, but for Massmart this figure is only 9%. In 2016, however, the hype of "African expansion" came badly unstuck, as it slammed head-first into the reality of shoddy governance and poorly diversified economies being battered by a steep plunge in oil revenues. Casualties included Tiger Brands, which sold its Nigerian business and uncovered a scam in its East African operations; Mr Price and Woolworths, which couldn’t sell stock in Nigeria; and Standard Bank. Hayward say...

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