Malbak inches towards unbundling
Jack Cohen re-assumes top slot at Tedelex as group begins to let go of assets, writes ZILLA EFRAT
This follows a management buy-out of unlisted Eagle Freight and management's sale of 35% of Eagle to German firm Thyssen Haniel Logistic GMbH.
The value of the deals are unknown but Malbak expects the sale of these companies, together with that of far smaller Stalcor, to raise more than R120-million.
Further announcements are expected this week following Malbak's board meeting on Friday.
Malbak's acting chief executive, Peter Benningfield, says the disposal of Malbak's other unlisted interests are close to finalisation. Activity is accelerating now that the holiday season is over.
He says there are buyers for all of Malbak's unlisted interests. None are foreigners or black empowerment groups. One more management buyout is likely.
In total, the disposal of the unlisted assets - which include Malbak Motor Holdings, Defy and ICL - is expected to generate over R700-million.
Benningfield says Malbak is on line to meet the end-March deadline set for its unbundling.
It is still in talks with Anglo American Industrial Corporation, which has joint control over Haggie. Amic has a pre-emptive right to buy Malbak's 36% stake in Haggie, a listed engineering group hurt by a worldwide softening of international steel markets.
However, despite various talks, it appears likely that Malbak will distribute its shares in its listed subsidiaries - Nu Clicks, Ellerines, Foodcorp, Kohler and SA Druggists - to its shareholders.
Cohen is the sole buyer of Tedelex. He has, however, been bankrolled by a major institution. Cohen spent 35 years at Tedelex before retiring last year. He joined the firm soon after it was founded by Benny Slome.
Cohen says Tedelex will remain under family control, but he plans to give management a stake and re-list Tedelex in the future.
Tedelex sells small household appliances and has has a costefficient plant in Atlantas, Western Cape, which assembles televisions on behalf of Sony.
Hurt by illegal imports and low margins, Tedelex incurred losses of R34-million in the year to August.
Cohen says the company has great turnaround potential. His first step will be to restructure the group and bring it to break-even point. The purchase of Eagle Freight, one of South Africa's 10 largest forwarding companies, was led by its managing director, Bobby Pearson. Other new shareholders include Kevin Lee and Francois van der Merwe, as well as senior management who are participants in a recently formed share trust.
Thyssen Haniel, which has a long-standing relationship with Eagle Freight, has a staff of over 7 000 in its 248 offices around the world and an annual turnover in excess of R11-billion.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Malbak's UK-listed printing and packaging group MY Holdings plc said on Thursday it would welcome any decision by Malbak to distribute its stake among Malbak shareholders.
Malbak has said this was one of the options it was considering as it weighed up structures whereby its shareholders could retain their effective interest in MY, although it may be inhibited by exchange control regulations.
Malbak, in which MY has a 64% stake, believes the move could lead to much-improved liquidity in the group's shares.