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‘No debt, just cash’

May 20 2010 00:00 Sikonathi Mantshantsha
AFTER COMMITTING 3m of its Mvelaphanda Resources shares to a low-priced hedge two weeks ago, investment holding company Afripalm denied it was pressed by potentially crippling debt with which it had funded its investment in the mining investment company. Afripalm-controlled Mvelaphanda Resources then sold a significant amount of its stake in platinum producer Northam Platinum. Last week it sold some of its shares in property group Growthpoint to raise almost R2m.
The 124 000 Growthpoint-linked units sold last week were only a fraction of the 6m linked to Ragi Moonsamy, who sits on the property investment company as a representative of  Unipalm Investments. That’s the investment holding vehicle of Afripalm Resources, headed by Mvela Resources and Northam chairman Lazarus Zim.
Moonsamy told Finweek (6 May) the company was “as healthy as healthy can be” after we queried the hedge in Mvela Resources. He sits on Growthpoint’s board as a representative of the black empowerment consortia, which own a total of 8% of the company. Unipalm’s website states it owns a third of the AMU Trust, which owns Growthpoint’s empowerment stock.
No reason was offered for the latest sale. However, we reported Moonsamy saying the company was selling shares “to generate cash flows for the operations of the company” (Afripalm) as it invests in long-term mining assets, which only generate revenue after years. That surely still applies to the Growthpoint transaction?
The 12, 21% sale of Northam to ENRC was effected as the first step in the unbundling of Mvela Resources’ assets to its own shareholders (Mvela owned 62,8% of Northam) and to wipe out Mvela’s debt obligations. “In no way are we financially challenged in any form,” said Moonsamy. “We’re enjoying the fruits of our labour.”
Mikki Xayiya is one Mvela director who can’t legitimately claim to be “enjoying the fruits” of his labour at the company. He recently took delivery of 660 000 shares at an exercise price of 2241c/share for a R14,8m cash layout. The current market price of the securities is R31,3m. What business does he have with incentive options in the company? Mvela’s practice of awarding share options to Xayiya conflicts with every modern good corporate governance guideline.
Xayiya is a non-executive director at Mvela Resources and deputy chairman and co-founder of its unlisted parent company, Mvelaphanda Holdings. But then again this group can’t be accused of being a big fan of good corporate governance. It controls the listed Mvelaphanda Group, with Xayiya at the top as executive chairman. He took over that role when Tokyo Sexwale left for political office last year. As Mvela Group is in the middle of a restructuring, Finweek can only hope good governance is one of the issues it will take more seriously.
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