On BEE and the Waterfront deal

2011-03-05 18:36

The Guptas deny that they have benefited from South Africa’s BEE laws. According to Ajay Gupta, the opposite is true.

“Sahara did its own empowerment transaction. We gave 26% to black people, the transaction was funded by Nedbank.

It’s not that we’re taking anything, we’re giving.”

On their relationship with businessman Lazarus Zim, Ajay says Zim was looking for an investor and the family’s Oakbay Investments bought 30% of Zim’s Afripalm Holdings.

“This has nothing to do with empowerment. I went in as an investor and until today, I did not get a single cent in dividends from that company,” he says.

Atul Gupta adds: “We all know the Gupta family only entered in 1993. We’re like Europeans, let’s say it that way, in the status.”

But Ajay intervenes: “That’s not the issue. The issue is simply that we are doing an empowerment transaction. How can we take advantage of that?”

On the V&A Waterfront deal, the Guptas claim their stake in the recent purchase of the property by a consortium, led by property group Growthpoint and the Public Investment Corporation, had been exaggerated in the extreme.

Ajay: “I pray that someone gives me some money out of that.”

Parekh explains their involvement: “The Guptas’ Oakbay Investments owns 33% of Afripalm. Afripalm owns 35% of Unipalm. Unipalm owns 33% of a trust, that is Growthpoint’s BEE partner, and Growthpoint has a 14% BEE equity component.

“So you can imagine just how watered down our share is. If you turn the table around and you see what is the see-through effect right up to our Oakbay, it is less than 0.5%.”

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