Urgent bid to block WP Rugby sale

Thelo Wakefield (Gallo)
Thelo Wakefield (Gallo)

Cape Town - An urgent bid will be launched in the Cape High Court on Friday to thwart the already-announced sale of WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd to a company owned by parent body the WP Rugby Football Union.

Aerios, the commercial partner in major financial dispute with WP Rugby - it is claiming R72 million from them for allegedly reneging on advertising rights deals - say an urgent application has been filed.

Their chief executive, Costas Constantinou, told Sport24 it would be their contention that the liquidators did not have the powers to announce the sale, due to an appeal lodged by Aerios at the time final liquidation of the embattled Pty was granted on Tuesday.

Chris van Zyl, managing director of the liquidating firm, Mazars Recovery and Restructuring (Pty) Ltd, revealed in a WP Rugby media statement on Thursday that a purchase price had been agreed and paid.

WPRFU presdent Thelo Wakefield later told www.iol.co.za that the WP Rugby Union would own 51 percent of the yet unnamed business that will become the new commercial arm, with Remgro Sport Investments taking up the remaining 49 percent shareholding.

He also claimed that creditor claims issues had been resolved: “We don’t owe any creditor. I don’t want to single out Aerios. But at this stage we don’t owe any creditor whatsoever … all creditors will be looked after; there is no need to worry.”

Wakefield said they were “back on track and on our way” at Newlands.

But Aerios are clearly not backing down, given their latest court action and the ongoing nature of their appeal against the liquidation.

Constantinou had said at the time of the liquidation announcement earlier in the week: “It is really disappointing ... we will not let the matter lie.”

In an interview a few weeks before liquidation was granted, he had told Sport24 that the process by Newlands bosses was a “fraudulent plot” by WP to escape obligations to Aerios.

“The attempt is to suggest separate entities. The reality is (that) the Pty is basically an agency of the Union. They work from the same premises, do the same things ... there is no difference (or) separation.

“They’re using this whole matter as a trick to come out the other side ... they are just trying to be rid of us.”

The WP Rugby statement on the sale on Thursday said the purchase price achieved by the liquidators was “more than twice the net asset valuation conducted by a large audit firm and verified by another independent audit firm”.

It added: “Rugby in the Western Province has been saved and an exciting 2017 season awaits the loyal WP fan base.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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