Gupta-owned company shares dive 91% as websites downed by hackers

Ajay and Atul Gupta. (Muntu Vilakazi, City Press)
Ajay and Atul Gupta. (Muntu Vilakazi, City Press)

Cape Town – Gupta-owned Oakbay Resources and Energy’s [JSE:ORL] share price plummeted by over 90% on the JSE on Wednesday, the same day that hackers attacked the company’s websites and shut them down.

The JSE-listed company was trading R20.86 lower at R2.14, with only 30 shares trading. The company, with a market cap of R1.71bn, was working off a price to earnings ratio of -3 382. The JSE average is around 16.

Normally, the JSE freezes any listed company whose share price dives by over 30% in a single session. However, the JSE told Fin24 that Oakbay is listed in the ZA03 segment of the market and this segment does not have circuit breaker alerts.

"Oakbay is an extremely illiquid instrument that trades very rarely," the JSE said. "At the time of today’s trade the spread (difference between buying and selling orders) was 214 to 2 300, a person wished to sell 30 shares and the best bid was 214. There is nothing that raises questions about this trade."

UPDATE AT 22:00: The Oakbay Resources and Energy share price shot back up to R23 by the end of trade on Wednesday showing a 0% change in movement, with the market cap also returning to R18.4bn. Fin24 did not receive comment from Oakbay on the sharp changes in trading.

Oakbay Resources and Energy, which published its results last week, made a loss of R16.913m in 2016, which it said is a 56% improvement from 2015’s loss of R38.94m.

This caused a headline loss of 0.68 cents per share for the year ended February 29 2016, up 96.38% from last year’s loss of 18.78c/share, the company said in a statement.

RELATED: Gupta-owned Oakbay set to make huge loss despite improvement

The nosedive in the company’s shares came as hacktivists shut down many of the Gupta-owned websites.

Anonymous Africa said it was attempting to down websites of Gupta-linked media outlets ANN7 and The New Age on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Anonymous Africa tweeted: “At 12 the ANN7 website will be too busy landing at Waterkloof Denial of Service Airfield to see visitors. #TickTock.”

By 15:10 on Wednesday, the websites of Gupta-owned The New Age, ANN7, Sahara and Oakbay were offline.

Spokespeople at ANN7 and The New Age could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

RELATED: Hack attack threat for Gupta sites, Oakbay down

The Guptas resigned from all business positions this year, including those at Oakbay Resources and Energy, after they pulled out of their high-profile positions as a result of political and business pressure.

Ajay and Atul Gupta were the co-chairs of Oakbay Investments, while Atul was the chair of Oakbay Resources and Energy. Varun Gupta was the CEO of Oakbay Resources and Energy, while Duduzane Zuma (President Jacob Zuma’s son) was a director of Shiva Uranium. He also resigned.

The family has come under increasing pressure due to allegations that they influenced Zuma's appointment of Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and former finance minister Des van Rooyen, as well as offering ministerial posts to Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.

“By stepping down from all executive and non-executive positions and any involvement in the business, we hope to save the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in our great rainbow nation,” the Guptas said.

New auditors, but no sponsor

In April, Oakybay Resources and Energy announced the appointment of SizweNtsalubaGobodo as its new auditors after KPMG cut ties with the company this year. However, it has yet to find a replacement for Sasfin, who cut ties as the company's JSE sponsor. It has also been blacklisted from all of South Africa's top banks.

KPMG Southern Africa CEO Trevor Hoole told staff that "the recent media and political interest in the Gupta family, together with comments and questions from various stakeholders … has required us to evaluate the continued provision of our services to this group".

That followed increasing political heat this year due to allegations that they influenced President Jacob Zuma's appointment of Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and former finance minister Des van Rooyen, as well as offering ministerial posts to Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.

RELATED: Gupta-owned Oakbay finds new auditors

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