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Gupta's firm saved from being booted off JSE

Sep 01 2016 14:49
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Gupta-owned Oakbay Resources and Energy has averted being booted off the JSE by securing a new sponsor with effect from Thursday.

This comes after the Guptas announced last Friday that they would sell all their shares in their South African businesses by the end of the year.

The Gupta-owned businesses have battled operationally in 2016 due to being blacklisted by all South Africa’s major banks; their former sponsor Sasfin and auditor KPMG also cut ties with them.

The JSE saidin a statement on Thursday that "in light of this, the JSE wishes to confirm that it is no longer considering the suspension of the issuer’s (Oakbay’s) listing because the issuer has now complied with section 2.2 and/or section 3.3 of the JSE Listings Requirements".

Oakbay is managing to pay its employees’ salaries through international banks, but this is a complicated and expensive process. In April, Oakbay announced SizweNtsalubaGobodo would replace KMPG as auditors.  

With the auditor and sponsor in place, Oakbay’s final hurdle will be its attempt to persuade the banks to resume business with them.

Guptas aim to sell shares by end of 2016

The Guptas’ statement on Saturday certainly aims to achieve that goal.

“As a family, we now believe that the time is right for us to exit our shareholding of the South African businesses, which we believe will benefit our existing employees, and lead to further growth in the businesses.

“We believe that this decision (to sell their shares) is in the best interests of our business, the country and our colleagues,” they said.

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said on Saturday that “for the Gupta family to suggest that their decision was taken to advance the interest of the country is plain dishonest”.

“Things have evidently reached a ‘tipping point’ and the Gupta family has decided that it’s in their best interests to abandon ship in South Africa.”

Eskom CEO Brian Molefe defended the Guptas on Wednesday after he was questioned about the state of his relationship with the family, who are President Jacob Zuma’s close friends.

Molefe said that up until now the allegations of state capture by the Guptas have been “gossip and innuendo”, adding that it sounds as if the Guptas have been found guilty by a kangaroo court.

READ: Molefe: I am captured by the constitution, not Guptas

Treasury has been investigating a coal contract with the Gupta-owned Tegeta mining company, which has come into the spotlight this week over a statement that Eskom was hampering the probe.

READ: Eskom gives in to Treasury on coal report

Allegations of state capture

The Guptas have majority shares in Oakbay Investments, which owns The New Age newspaper, ANN7 TV news channel, computer company Sahara and Optimum coal mine. They also have shares in Oakbay Resources and Energy, which owns the mining company Shiva.

Allegations that the Guptas handpicked Mosebenzi Zwane to be mines minister and Des van Rooyen to be finance minister intensified when Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas claimed they offered him the role of finance minister before Van Rooyen was chosen. The Guptas, Zwane, Van Rooyen and Zuma all deny these allegations.

“No charge has ever been brought against us,” the Guptas said in a statement last Friday. “We repeat the challenge to our detractors – if you have evidence against us, please bring it. Otherwise, please leave us alone. We have no interest in politics, only business.”

However, DA leader Mmusi Maimane told Fin24 on Wednesday that it is clear why the Guptas have not been charged, even though the DA pressed charges in March.

“Of course there can be no charges against the Guptas, because … they have not captured the state, they have only captured Jacob Zuma,” he said.

“But if you control organs of state such as the NPA and the Hawks, of course there aren't going to be charges against this particular family."

WATCH: Interview with Mmusi Maimane

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