Period: Six months to June 30
Turnover: R695-million (Up 17%)
Headline earnings: 43c a share (Up 5%)
Trading income rose 10% to R61.8-million but a 47% rise in financing costs damaged the net result. During the half-year, Chemserve bought Applied Chemical Products and Nalco-Chemserve. Subsidiary Chemserve Surface Technologies bought UK-based phosphate and lubricants company John Collier, while Crest Chemicals and Chemserve Fine Chemicals were merged and 30% sold to Holland Chemical on 1 July.
Chemserve was 78% geared at June 30; goodwill of R51-million written off was part of the explanation; seasonal factors and acquisition payments the rest. Chemserve's directors expect modestly better earnings and dividends for the full year.
GENBEL Genbel SA, the closed-end investment trust worth R1.1-billion, has returned 23.7% for shareholders in the year to June 1998, arising from share-price appreciation plus dividends. Notable features in the portfolio were the 588% rise in the value of African Merchant Bank, 134% in Educor, 78% in Didata, 76% in Nail, 70% in Millennium Entertainment and 66% in PQ Holdings. Financial services comprise 47% of the assets, information technology 23%, media 17% and retail 7%. The share price is R30, close to its May peak of R33.
Period: Six months to June 30
Turnover: R1.63-billion (Up 7.7%)
Attributable earnings: R34.2-million (Up 17%)
Dividend: 30c (Up 20%)
The group regards current levels of work on hand as satisfactory, with first-half highlights including the award of the Golden Pride opencast mining project in Tanzania and the acquisition of a 50% stake in Australia's Ausenco. LTA said while the percentage increase in headline earnings (32%) was unlikely to be maintained in the second half-year, the group remains on target to achieve real growth in profitability in line with last year.
PLESSEY Plessey Corporation and US-based FORE Systems Inc, a global supplier of networking solutions, will establish a research and development centre in Cape Town with the intention of exporting communications software and hardware to the world markets.
This follows the recent announcement that Plessey Solutions would be one of two suppliers to implement Telkom's new broadband communications network using FORE equipment.
The R&D centre will involve a R70-million investment by NASDAQ-listed FORE Systems.
MASTERFRIDGE Masterfridge said Geoff Mangan would take over as chief executive from October 1, replacing Mervyn Shear. The company, whose shares rocketed from around 50c to peak over 200c last week, said Mangan was already implementing measures to cut costs, rationalise operations and trim its expensive stockpile of raw materials.
The Masterfridge group makes its products in Swaziland and distribution is handled by Johannesburg-based Fridgemaster.
MEGA/FACTS & FICTION Media company Millennium Entertainment Group Africa Ltd (Mega) has acquired London-based retail book chain Hammicks and expanded at home by buying the Facts & Fiction chain.
The two deals were valued at R39-million, and Mega said it had set aside a further R40-million to recapitalise these businesses.
Hammicks has 30 outlets, predominantly in southeast England, while Facts & Fiction has seven specialised outlets. Mega, which owns the Exclusive Books chain in SA, said the Hammicks management team would remain unchanged.
The company announced as well that it had increased its shareholding in the New Holland Struik publishing group from 46.5% percent to 65%.
New Holland Struik has established interests in SA, Australia, Britain and recently expanded into New Zealand with the acquisition of two local publishing companies.
MERCANTILE LISBON BANK Mercantile Lisbon Bank Holdings hopes to increase 1999 earnings per share by 34.9% to 11.35c. The group, which is to list on the JSE on August 12, forecast dividends rising to 5.5c from 3c. It reported earnings of 13.61c for the year to March 31. "The group is now well placed to reap the benefits of the strategy adopted with the acquisition of Bank of Lisbon International (BLT) and, with its recent susbtantial increase in capital, we are confident of achieving the forecast earnings," managing director Derek Cohen told analysts.
The group's major shareholders include Portugal's Banco Nacional Ultramario, Gensec/NSA Equity Fund, Hollard Holdings, Sanlam and the South African Railways and Harbour Workers' Union. MLBH's subscription of 24-million ordinary shares at 300c opened on Tuesday.
MURRAY & ROBERTS Murray & Roberts Holdings said that talks to sell its cement, quarrying and ready-mixed concrete activities were progressing and would yield fruit soon. "Several offers have been received and the due diligence procedures are nearing completion," it said. The company did not name the parties with which it was talking or indicate a price range. The units up for sale contributed roughly R125-million to the group earnings before interest and taxation in the year to June 30, 1997.
KAROS Karos Hotels reported sliding full-year losses but disclosed it had sold itself to a Saudi-Swiss hotel chain in a bid to secure a return to profitability. Karos blamed fierce competition and slowing numbers of visitors for its poor performance, but said a R90-million cash injection for the sale of a 51% controlling stake to Movenpick Hotels & Resorts AG would aid its future. The money would help repair a heavily indebted balance sheet and, as a weaker rand encouraged foreign tourism, the group was optimistic it could turn the corner. Swiss-based Movenpick, 30% owned by the family of Saudi Prince Alwaleed, has an option to invest a further R60-million via preference shares.
TRIDELTA Magnet producer Tridelta has clinched a joint venture agreement with Ukranian firm Coercit Engineering to set up a plant in Kiev. Tridelta said the joint venture planned total capital investment of $15-million to build a magnet products capability in the Ukranian capital and ultimately construct a magnet manufacturing plant. "The immediate aim of the manufacturing facility would be the manufacture of magnets, motor housing and magnet systems in the Ukraine to meet current orders for the products in Italy, Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia and the US," it said. Tridelta, which listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange at the end of January, is already well established in Europe with two of its three magnet manufacturing plants in the German cities of Dortmund and Hermsdorf.
VALUECOM Internet information group ValueCom aims to list 190-million shares in the venture capital sector on Friday after a private placement of 47.5-million shares at 50c. ValueCom forecasts earnings a share of 2.63c in the year to June 1999, and to be making 8.46c by 2001.