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Shoprite shareholders to vote on Whitey Basson's R1.7bn share sale

Sep 05 2017 10:44
Janice Kew, Bloomberg News

Johannesburg - Shoprite [JSE:SHP] shareholders will vote on Tuesday on whether to approve a proposed repurchase of about R1.7bn of shares from former chief executive officer Whitey Basson.

Basson exercised a put option on May 2 that meant Cape Town-based Shoprite would buy 8.58 million shares from the ex-CEO, who stepped down as head of Africa’s biggest food retailer at the end of last year.

The original sale price of R211.01 a share was later reduced to R201.07, the 30-day weighted average price up to when Basson decided to use his put option. At least 75% of voting shareholders have to be in favour of the repurchase for it to be approved.

Shoprite shares fell 0.5% to R222 at the close in Johannesburg on Monday, valuing the company at R133bn.

Billionaire Christo Wiese, Shoprite’s largest shareholder and South Africa’s fourth-richest person with a net worth of R72.6bn, said August 22 he wasn’t expecting significant opposition from investors.

The put option, agreed to in 2003, ensured Basson didn’t “flood the market” with shares while he worked for the company and was also part of an incentive to retain him in the role, which he held for almost four decades, Wiese said at the time.

If the deal isn’t approved, Basson should have no difficulty selling the shares to money managers over the next few months, Syd Vianello, an independent retail analyst in Johannesburg, said by phone. The stock has risen since the put option was triggered, meaning Basson could get even more cash if he sells independently.

Wiese owns about 15% of Shoprite’s ordinary listed shares and a further 30% in voting rights. The Public Investment Corp, which looks after state pensions and is the continent’s biggest money manager with assets of R1.6trn, holds about 10% of the company and is its second-largest shareholder.

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shoprite  |  christo wiese  |  whitey basson  |  retail  |  companies

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