TheBigPond - spotlight on what South African business and business people have been up to in Europe. Edited by South African journalist Christo Volschenk from Stuttgart, Germany. Note: This blog has migrated to a new home at www.thebigpond.eu.
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UK's popular working holiday and au-pair visas on their way out

Working holidays in the UK could be a thing of the past for South Africa's youth.

In the biggest shake up of immigration policy in over 40 years, the UK has adopted Australia's highly successful points-based system for migration. Part of this new 5-tier immigration system involves the abolishment of several visa types over the next 6 months.

Both the working holiday and au-pair visas will be terminated from November 2008, says immigration firm 1st Contact Visas (www.1stcontact.com).

About 17,000 South Africans enter the UK each year under the working holiday visa alone. The direct replacement for these two visas is the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme. However, there is a concern that the Tier 5 visas will not be available to citizens of South Africa.

Although not yet confirmed, the firm 1st Contact Visas said, unless there are reciprocal agreements in place for young Brits to take working holidays in South Africa, this highly popular visa will no longer be an option for young South Africans.

What is more, all applicants for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa requires an applicant's national government to act as his/her sponsor. Sadly, it is unlikely the South African government will become an approved sponsor due to the country's high unemployment rate and other social factors, the firm said.

Other options for employment-type visas to the UK are available. The Tier 1 visa is an option available for skilled, qualified migrants, while the Ancestry visa can be used for those with a grandparent born in the UK.

Lastly, partner/spousal visas are an option if you are the partner or spouse of a UK or EU citizen. The official announcement regarding the countries participating in the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme is due by the end of the southern hemisphere winter.
10.7.08 13:58


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FIFA's vote of no confidence in South Africa's politicians

It is very important that FIFA's identification (at this late stage) of three countries as alternative hosts (to South Africa) of the FIFA World Football Cup 2010 be seen for what it is, namely a vote of no confidence in the politics of the country.

It reflects a view that South Africa's political situation has become volatile, that it is growing more volatile by the day, and that it has become impossible to say whether the "new political dispensation" (to take over in March 2009) will be stable and "world-friendly" enough to ensure a successful FIFA World Cup in 2010.

As such, the FIFA move must embarrass the politicians of South Africa.

The official explanation for the move to line up three alternative hosts (which was confirmed by FIFA president Joseph Blatter this week) is that it's a normal precaution to cover the situation of a natural disaster occurring (eg. an earthquake). That can simply not be true. Every good manager will take that kind of precaution at the time the host is first nominated, or shortly thereafter. And not shortly before the event is to take place.

After all, the idea with the alternatives is to remove risk for FIFA. And this is not achieved by waiting until 24 months before the event to search for alternative hosts.

An article in today's Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) leaves the impression that Blatter wanted to increase pressure on South Africa to speed up preparations (including the building of the stadiums). That is also not correct. This has little to do with being ready on time. South Africa will be ready on time. This is not the first World Cup sport event we've organised. A country able to excavate gold kilometers deep, is able to build a "little" structure on the ground to house 80,000 spectators - don't worry about that.

No, no. The whole episode is confirmation from an unexpected quarter that the politics of South Africa has taken a turn for the worse.

As I said before, these are the years of living dangerously in South Africa.
11.7.08 10:04


What a boykie!

Behind every successful man there is (always) someone who says he was at university with him. I know. But, what the hell...I was at university with him.

This (shortened) news item (dated today) from the ITINews website (www.itinews.co.za). The headline is mine:

Hendrik crowned 'Best CEO in the world'

At a function in London last night, Hendrik du Toit, CEO of Investec Asset Management, was named Chief Executive of the Year by the magazine Global Investor.

Global Investor is a leading monthly title dedicated to the international investment community.

The annual Global Investor Awards honour individuals and companies that have made outstanding contributions to the investment industry.

The Chief Executive of the Year accolade is awarded to the Chief Executive who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her own company’s profile and standing in the market and who has contributed to the improvement and understanding of the market as a whole.

Founded by Hendrik in Cape Town in 1991, Investec Asset Management has grown under his guidance and leadership to an international investment manager with approximately R460 billion (€37 billion) in assets under management.

While the investment team is based in Cape Town and London, Investec Asset Management serves a growing international client base from the American continent to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and Africa.

End of article

Comment: From 0 to 100 in a few years. Quite amazing. Congratulations also from Germany.
11.7.08 16:03


With a little luck, South Africa might have fast, cheap broadband soon...

Telkom and mobile phone company Vodacom might be in for a few shareholder changes - if this news item from UK website Cellular-news.com is anything to go by:

"A person familiar with the situation said UK's Vodafone was interested in buying an additional 12.5% stake in Vodacom, giving it control with a 62.5% shareholding.

"Vodacom is jointly owned by Vodafone and landline operator Telkom SA. Vodafone has offered to increase its stake in the mobile operator, conditional on Telkom spinning off its remaining holding to its shareholders.

"Separately, South African business tycoon Tokyo Sexwale's Mvelaphanda Holdings, New York-listed Och-Ziff Capital Management and other strategic backers have written to Telkom to say they are interested in buying Telkom, less its 50% stake in Vodacom."
11.7.08 16:46


Romania gets BAT financial services centre

According to the Romanian website ZF (www.zf.ro), British American Tobacco will establish a financial services centre in the capital Bucharest.

Here a short extract from an article posted today:

"British American Tobacco (BAT), the largest consumer goods company on the local market, has selected Bucharest as location for a financial service centre, to be called British American Shared Services Europe (BASS Europe).

It will serve 36 European countries from Ireland and the UK to Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus by 2010. BAT will hire 250 people over the next three years to work at the centre."
11.7.08 17:12


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