Former CNA owner says it sold its stake because of discord among managers

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A CNA store at the Woodlands Boulevard mall, Gauteng. (Photo: Woodlands Boulevard)
A CNA store at the Woodlands Boulevard mall, Gauteng. (Photo: Woodlands Boulevard)

Amid reports of continuing tensions in CNA, investment firm Astoria blamed its quick exit from the company on growing discord among the management team.

After buying the stake in 2020, it sold its 70% stake in the embattled retailer for R1.2 million to members of the CNA management team in May 2021.

"The investment was an option on the turnaround of the CNA business. As time progressed and discord among the management team grew, the prospects for a quick turnaround faded.

"Combined with the commensurate capital requirements to see the delayed turnaround through, the opportunity did not present a favourable risk/return and Astoria exited the investment," said the group in its results statement for the six months ended 30 June.

The stationery retailer has been placed in business rescue, after a public fall-out between its board and former CEO Benjamin Trisk. The directors claimed Trisk consulted business rescue practitioners without their approval and later claimed he resigned - which was disputed by Trisk, who still owns 30% of the company.

Astoria Investments still owns 33% of Outdoor Investment Holdings (OIH), which in turn owns Safari & Outdoor, Inyathi Supplies, and pet stores Family Pet Centre.

The investment group said the value of its OIH stake rose due to strong demand in SA's outdoor-leisure market, and during the six-month period Astoria received a dividend of R4.6 million from OIH.

Other investments include stakes in building materials and mining group Afrimat and diamond group Trans Hex. The group said Afrimat had a strong operational performance, and the share price improved by 36%, driven by improved sentiment and continued strong commodity prices. 

Astoria's net asset value per share rose to R8.80, while headline earnings per share also rose to 216.36 cents for the half year.

The group's share price was unchanged at R4 early on Wednesday afternoon, closing 7% higher at R4.28. 

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