Rolex joins the list of companies exiting South Africa

 ·17 May 2024

Rolex has closed its affiliate office in Sandton, Johannesburg, adding to the growing list of international companies that are scaling back or exiting South Africa.

As reported by News24, the luxury Swiss watch manufacturer is closing its office because the local markets and conjuncture have changed, no longer warranting the presence of an official Rolex affiliate.

Despite planning to close its office in Sandton in June, the group’s products will still be available via its official retailer network.

Thus, Rolex joins a long list of international companies that have recently made headlines for exiting the country.

Shell plans to sell its downstream business in South Africa, which includes 600 petrol stations in the country, as part of a broader restructuring. The group will still, however, operate its upstream business across the country.

Moreover, BNP Paribas, the sixth largest bank in the world, is no longer conducting the business of a bank via a branch in South Africa.

The French bank’s exit is also due to a restructuring. It is exiting non-core operations in Africa to focus on Europe and Asia.

That said, BNP Paribas is still the owner of credit provider RCS, and little information has been provided on its proposed sale since it was reported in 2022.

Amidst takeover bids from rival BHP, Anglo American also plans to separate Anglo American Platinum (Amplats).

In a slight positive, Anglo American still plans to maintain its shareholding in Kumba Iron Ore. BHP’s takeover bids would have seen Amplats and Kumba spun off.

However, BHP said that the move was not an indictment of South Africa but rather due to its commodity and portfolio needs, with the group primarily targeting Anglo American’s copper business.

Positives and negative

It should be noted that South Africa is still considered an attractive destination for many international investors.

PwC recently showed that South Africa had seen net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows (inflows minus outflows) most years since the global financial crisis of 2008.

Amazon Web Services, for example, plans to invest R30 billion in South Africa over the next decade. The broader group is also opening a R4.5 billion head office in Cape Town and recently launched its online marketplace in South Africa.

Moreover, in the motor manufacturing space, VW is investing R4 billion into its Eastern Cape factory, with plans to add a third car to its production line.

Stellantis, the world’s third-largest automotive manufacturer by volume, will also open a new R3 billion manufacturing site in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2025.

Read: NHI fraud and corruption – how the law says looters will be punished

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter