Tokyo to cash in

2012-08-04 18:08

Sale of Absa shares worth R2bn could boost election ‘war chest’

In what may become one of the largest cash-ins in black empowerment history, presidential hopeful Tokyo Sexwale’s Mvelaphanda is set to off-load its biggest asset.

City Press has learnt that black shareholders in Absa, who were part of the Batho Bonke scheme initiated by Sexwale and others, are about to sell their stake in the bank.

Mvelaphanda holds a 2.28% stake in Absa through its 47% stake in Batho Bonke.

Now the company and 1.2 million other black investors are looking to cash in their Batho Bonke shares, valued at R2.2 billion.

This could significantly boost Sexwale’s war chest ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.

This week, at an annual general meeting of Batho Bonke shareholders in Sandton, a special resolution about cashing in the almost 30 million Absa shares was discussed.

A senior business executive and shareholder of Batho Bonke told City Press all shareholders had received letters.

An Absa spokesperson said: “As of June 30 2012, Batho Bonke held 3.9% of Absa (translating to 27.9 million Absa shares). Absa confirms all of Batho Bonke’s outstanding debt obligations to Absa have been fulfilled.”

The bank said Batho Bonke did not need to inform Absa of its intention to exercise options.

According to Batho Bonke spokesperson Chris Vick, the next step is to deal with disposal options.

He said no time frames for the disposal had been set.

Vick said this week’s meeting put the valuation of the stake, after capital gains tax, at R2.2 billion.

Sexwale, through his company Mvelaphanda, is set to be the biggest beneficiary.

Although he resigned from all his directorships after being appointed human settlements minister in 2009, Sexwale still owns shares in Mvelaphanda through a blind trust.

Some of the prominent Batho Bonke shareholders include ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, businessman Leslie Maasdorp, former presidency employee Nthobi Angel, political commentator Xolela Mangcu and SABC journalist Sophie Mokoena.

Nelson Mandela’s daughters – Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindzi Mandela – are also shareholders in the scheme.

Indications are that Sexwale is preparing to challenge President Jacob Zuma for the position of ANC president in December.

Political analyst Professor Steven Friedman said money was “incredibly important” in a presidential campaign.

He said there should be “serious firewalls and laws” preventing the purchase of political benefits.

Unisa political scientist Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said Sexwale had in the past failed to convert his financial muscle into political support.

“What he needs now, going to Mangaung, is political support, which he does not have.”

Ahead of the 2007 ANC elective conference in Limpopo, Sexwale cancelled his presidential campaign and threw in his lot with Jacob Zuma.

Mvelaphanda’s interim financial director, William Marshall-Smith, declined to comment on the deal.

In a story headlined ‘Tokyo to cash in’ on August 5, we reported that political commentator Xolela Mangcu was one of the shareholders of Batho Bonke shares in Absa.

Initially Mangcu was a shareholder, but has since disposed of his shares. City Press didn’t contact him before publishing the article.

We regret the error and apologise to Mangcu for the incorrect reporting and inconvenience the article may have caused.

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