Black, female and rich - a new elite bites off its share
Nozala Investments is a surprise package in the otherwise masculine NEC, writes SVEN LUNSCHE
ONE of the surprise packages in the recent acquisition by the National Empowerment Corporation of 35% of Johnnic was a black-led women's investment group - Nozala Investments.
Hitherto unknown Nozala raised over R165-million for a 6,05% holding of the Johnnic stake. Nozala's chairperson, Salukazi Dakile-Hlongwane, was appointed as one of the NEC's 10 directors to the Johnnic board.
And, insists Dakile-Hlongwane, Nozala has escaped the stringent funding conditions imposed on other NEC members. "We will be making a good profit on our Johnnic investments," she says.
Founded early this year, the group initially wanted to attach itself to New Africa Investments Ltd, the most significant group in the NEC, but decided to establish itself as an independent consortium.
Yet the link with Nail is there for all to see and the group makes no attempt to conceal it. Merchant bank DLJ Pleiade, a subsidiary of Nail, is a 10% shareholder in Nozala and provides one director.
Dakile-Hlongwane says Nozala represents about 500 000 individuals, many of them women, through its shareholding structure.
Trade unions (Sactwu and Nactu) and other empowerment groupings own 24%, DLJ Pleiade 10%, institutions 15% (Sanlam, Southern Life and Absa), and the directors 51%. Directors and the empowerment groups bought into Nozala at a 90% discount, while the financial institutions paid R3-million for their 15% stake.
The list of directors reveals some surprises, including Vodacom group executive Joan Joffe, Eskom executive director Dawn Mokhobo, the former convenor of the Woman's Coalition Jean Ngubane and acting Supreme Court judge Navi Pillay. Dakile-Hlongwane is a senior manager at First National Bank.
"Our prime aim is to promote the economic empowerment of women in general and black women in particular," says Dakile-Hlongwane. "This will lead to attractive investment opportunities for the companies in our portfolio."
That portfolio is fairly small at present, comprising the Johnnic stake and 10% of the New Shelf Consortium, which was recently awarded the Radio Jacaranda licence. But a range of new ventures are imminent, says Natalie Fitz-Gerald, who represents DLJ Pleiade on the Nozala board. She says Nozala plans to utilise underlying Johnnic investments for its expansion plans into financial services, retail and the leisure industries.
Fitz-Gerald believes Nozala will also benefit from racial- and gender-progressive tendering and outsourcing by the public sector.
As with many other black business consortia, Nozala has yet to demonstrate just how wider empowerment will be facilitated through its various business deals. But the group has a number of innovative ideas and concepts. Through a proposed stake in a recruitment and training company, it hopes to train and develop the thousands of semi-skilled staff required for the casino, gambling and hospitality industry.
Furthermore, about 20% of the dividends earned by Nozala's directors and empowerment groups are channelled to the Nozala Trust. The Trust has aligned itself with the Start-Up fund, which has a good track record in financing micro-enterprises, particularly those run by women.