The corporate finance and strategy implications of country risk and investor sentiment in the South African mining industry : a case study of Impala Platinum Holdings Limited.
Louw, Mellenefi van Wyk.
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Earnings in the South African and Zimbabwean mining industries have been severely impacted by these countries' socio-economic and political changes in the last decade. News reports and international research publications consistently rates Zimbabwe as a country with the highest political risks in the world. In South Africa (SA), the initial mining charter requiring 51% Black Economic Empowerment, was leaked to the press in 2002 before promulgation making international investors weary. The currency, the Rand (R) has strengthened from the US$ from R13.85 in 2002 to R 7.17 in 2007, significantly impacting on returns as investors to shift their portfolio to other sectors. The purpose of this research was to explore the implications of country risk and investor sentiment for Impala Platinum's valuation and provide strategy recommendations to improve its market rating whilst sustaining its competitive advantage as a platform for achieving its 2010 vision. In this study, a brief environmental scan of the mining industry was undertaken focusing on the platinum sector as well as a background review of the industry and a five year performance comparison between Impala and Anglo Platinum. It also reviewed corporate strategy literature as it relates to the research problem as well as theoretical models of investor sentiment and decision making processes. The specific research design was primarily exploratory in nature. The Implats valuation conundrum appears to be a phenomenon and the best way to achieve the main research objective was to identify any new ideas, preliminary explore some possible hypothesis and provide strategy recommendations to the board. The research adopted both quantitative and qualitative designs to focus on understanding the values, attitudes and perceptions of investors, which is interpretive and inductive in nature. A holistic case study was the specific vehicle used to conduct the research. The research population was made up of all investors in different regions of the world. Given that the study specifically related to the Implats valuation relative to Amplats, the sampling was tailored to their common investors. Data was collected using a questionnaire; the likert five scale was used to design the questionnaire. The following recommendations were made as a result of the research. Implats should implement measures to build its value chain and attempt to move to a cost quartile not easy to replicate without significant investment and time. In the short term Implats needs to continue improving on its fundamental values whilst crafting a take over defence strategy. It also needs to improve on its investor relations program to robustly communicate its political risk management strategy.