Desai calls for full hearing as Jooste Mayfair case 'far bigger' than ABSA

Cape Town - The application in which ABSA seeks to recuperate R266m from Mayfair Speculators, the racehorse company of which Markus Jooste was a director until two weeks ago, has "implications far beyond the applicant (ABSA) in the matter" and will be postponed for a full hearing on the earliest available date.

Jooste was the CEO of Steinhoff International, the global retailer which is near collapse amid an accounting scandal. Since his resignation with immediate effect on December 5, the company's share price dropped more than 90% from R46.25 just before the news broke to R4.83 on Friday morning.

Judge Siraj Desai said in the Cape Town High Court on Friday "the matter is of great importance. He informed the parties that he would rather have the application be postponed for a full hearing on the earliest possible date available on the semi-urgent roll.

Although the parties agreed beforehand to have the application postponed to January 23, Desai said the court would on that date still be in recess. He rather wanted to opt for a postponement for a full hearing.

ABSA approached the Western Cape High Court on December 15 to order a provisional liquidation of Stellenbosch-headquartered Mayfair Speculators. 

Company records show that Mayfair Speculators has two active directors, Jooste and Stefanus Potgieter. 

In its founding affidavit ABSA said that Mayfair has three types of assets – a share portfolio in Steinhoff International, “certain racehorses” and a minority share in Klawervlei Stud. 

The sudden resignation of Jooste, and later of its board chairperson billionaire Christo Wiese, have not yet been able to stop the decline.

Once in the top 10 of the JSE by market cap, Steinhoff is now at around #85. 

Covenant 

ABSA said that on December 13, 2016, Mayfair and it entered into a banking agreement.  It agreed to provide Mayfair with an overdraft facility of R335m and bank guarantees of R14m. 

In return, Mayfair put up a Steinhoff International share portfolio owned by a company called SBG Securities Propriety Limited as surety.

ABSA said the agreement stipulated the multimillion-rand overdraft would remain active as long as Steinhoff shares held their value, and the amount outstanding did not “exceed 50% of the value of the shares”.

An additional provision held that if the amount outstanding exceeded 70% of the value of the shares, ABSA could “enforce any security interest it may have”. 

The directors of the company could, however, put up more surety to remedy matters. 

Steinhoff share price collapse 

ABSA said that by the time Steinhoff's share price had fallen to around R10, Mayfair was in breach of the overdraft facility contract. The bank then asked it to top up its security.

The ABSA affidavit states that Potgieter, one of Mayfair's two directors, then told the bank it “did not have additional revenue to remedy the covenant breaches”. 

Jooste is a known horse racing fanatic and through Mayfair owned one of the largest stables of thoroughbreds in South Africa. 

Mayfair sold one of its prize horses, Legal Eagle, this week, Bloomberg reports, quoting Sporting Post.

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