ANC chooses Zuma's replacement, Brexit on EU summit agenda
The FT's Daniel Garrahan previews the big stories in the week ahead, including the ANC deciding who’ll succeed Jacob Zuma as party leader, the ECB's final policy meeting of 2017, and an EU summit with Brexit very much on the agenda.
Filmed by Rod Fitzgerald. Produced by Daniel Garrahan
Hello and welcome to the "Week Ahead" from the Financial Times in London. Here are some of the big stories we're watching this week.
The African National Congress decides who will succeed President Jacob Zuma as party leader. The European Central Bank holds its final monetary policy meeting of 2017. Uber has its first appeal hearing since Transport for London banned it from the UK capital. And EU leaders meet in Brussels, with Brexit very much on the agenda.
First to South Africa, where the ruling African National Congress holds what could be its most important conference since it first came to power in 1994. Under President Jacob Zuma, the South African economy has stagnated. There have been allegations of corruption, and the ANC has seen its popularity fall, with some people even saying it could lose power in 2019 for the first time since the country's first democratic election.
This conference will decide who succeeds Mr Zuma as ANC leader going into the next election, as Africa news editor Andrew England reports.
There's two clear candidates. Cyril Ramaphosa, who's Mr. Zuma's deputy president. He's one of the best known black businessmen in the country and a veteran of the struggle against apartheid and a former unionist. He's kind of representing what's seen as the anti-Zuma faction, so the faction that's promising to tackle corruption and to renew the ANC.
His main challenger is Dlamini Nkosazana Zuma, who is the president's former wife. She's another veteran of the ANC, has served as a minister in all the ANC governments. But she's got the backing of the Zuma faction in the party.
So there are two main issues here. One is will Zuma's network remain in power or will a new faction, if you like, behind Cyril Ramaphosa win and set about renewing the party?
Next to Brussels, where EU leaders are gathering this week for the last summit of the year. Ongoing business will include strategic discussions over migration policy and the future of the eurozone. But Brexit will also be on the agenda.
The UK reached an historic deal on its EU exit terms on Friday, enshrining special rights for 4 million citizens and paying 40 to 60 billion euros. The hard fought divorce settlement clears the way for trade talks next year.
EU leaders will formally decide whether sufficient progress has been made to start the second phase of negotiations at this week's summits. But the European Council President Donald Tusk says the biggest challenges are still to come.
We all know that breaking up is hard, but breaking up and building a new relation is much harder. Since the Brexit referendum, a year and a half has passed. So much time has been devoted to the easier part of the task. And now, to negotiate a transition arrangement and the framework for our future relationship, we have de facto less than a year.
Now to Uber, which suffered a setback in September when London's transport authority declared it unfit to run its ride hailing application in the UK capital, refusing to renew its licence to operate. Transport for London accused Uber of showing a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to public safety and security.
Uber launched an appeal against the regulator to reverse the plan, with a hearing likely on Monday. The hearing comes at the end of a tumultuous year for the company, which has been hit by a scandal over sexual harassment claims, the resignation of co-founder Travis Kalanick, a massive security breach, and a legal battle with Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google owner Alphabet.
Reputational damage at Uber has big implications for investors, as our technology news editor Ravi Mattu explains.
Uber's trying to raise a big chunk of cash, a $10 billion investment led by SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate. And every time one of these scandals erupts, it poses a little bit more of a challenge around those issues.
This fundraising is still possibly going to happen, but inevitably, the more controversy, the more scandal, that raises questions for investors. The hope of a new CEO is that as he gets to grips with some of these scandals and indeed the SoftBank injection of funds that it will also lead to a better governance structure within the company. And that might then turn into improving the reputation of the group.
And finally, to Frankfurt where the European Central Bank meets this Thursday for its final monetary policy meeting of the year. With the latest round of economic data suggesting growth remains on track, no big action is expected. The Central Bank will stick to keeping interest rates at their current record lows and continue with its plans to buy government and corporate bonds.
But will the ECB shed a little more light on its plans for 2018? Here's our Frankfurt bureau chief Clare Jones.
What are we likely to see from the European Central Bank in 2018? Well, they'll continue to buy bonds for most of the year. However, rather than buying $60 billion a month as they are now, the pace is likely to fall to about $30 billion euros a month.
I'd also expect to see interest rates remain at their current record lows for the duration of next year. We're likely to see official borrowing costs remaining where they are at historical lows for at least another 12 months in the eurozone.
And that's what the week ahead looks like from the Financial Times in London. We'll see you again next time.