High-risk deal may be rewarding

Posted On Thursday, 29 September 2005 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Ailing construction group Basil Read has announced that its French-based parent company, Bouygues Travaux Publics, will sell 51% of Basil Read to an empowerment consortium.

Mzi Khumalo Ailing construction group Basil Read was flirting with businessman Mzi Khumalo as early as last November. Now the group has finally announced that its French-based parent company, Bouygues Travaux Publics, will sell 51% of Basil Read to an empowerment consortium.

It comprises Khumalo's Metallon Ventures and empowerment group Amabhubesi Investments, whose members include former national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.

The past few years have been extremely rough for Basil Read. It sank into the red in 2000, mainly as a result of non-performing offshore contracts.

Bouygues, which has about 70% of Basil Read's shares, tried in vain to salvage the situation through management reshuffles. Insiders pointed to the imposition of French nationals as the main source of Basil Read's problems.

The share price hit a low of 46c in August last year and NAV dropped to 0,24c/share. The parent company went shopping for an empowerment player and announced intentions to hook up with little-known group Chavda. It later canned the Chavda initiative and started flirting with Khumalo, who brings in substantial business and political clout.

The installation last year of a local CEO, Marius Heyns, seemed to have had positive results. In the year to end-June Basil Read posted a profit of R6m compared with a loss of R45m last year. Headline EPS came in at 10,8c from a loss of 87c. More encouraging is the group's order book, which picked up by R280m to R865m.

Basil Read's share price was around 245c this week, having touched a high of 330c early last month. This already represents some value for the empowerment partners, who will be coming in at a lower price, determined in March this year, when the agreement was reached with Bouygues. The price was based on the average closing price in the 30 days to May 12 this year, which should work out to below 100c.

It remains a high-risk but possibly high-return venture for Khumalo and, indeed, other investors.


Last modified on Friday, 18 October 2013 16:28

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