COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

WeBuyCars considers separate JSE listing

The founders of vehicle trader WeBuyCars are considering an unbundling from parent company Transaction Capital and seeking a separate listing on the JSE.

Transaction Capital made this announcement when releasing its annual results on Tuesday when it reported that earnings from its WeBuyCars business fell 14% to R658 million in the period to end-September. However, the vehicle trader had a better second half and consistently grew market share, helping to offset a R3.7 billion loss from SA's biggest taxi financier SA Taxi.

News24 approached WeBuyCars CEO Faan van der Walt for further clarity on the possible listing plans. He answered in a WhatsApp message that no final decision had been made.

"We are having discussions and considering it as an option for us," Van der Walt said of the possible listing of WeBuyCars. "When there is any further developments, we will inform the market accordingly."

Transaction Capital, which owns about 74.2% of WeBuyCars, is looking at options to reduce its enormous debt pile, and any unbundling could help raise much-needed capital.

The plan comes amid a massive restructure of SA Taxi, which includes talks about reorganising the debt of the taxi financier, scheduled for finalisation in March.-Fin24

Ellerines founder dies aged 90

Eric Ellerine, South African businessman and founder of Ellerine Furniture Company, has died at the age of 90.

Friends of the family confirmed that Ellerine had passed away early on Monday morning. They described him as a "strong family man" and an "oak" in South African business.

Ellerine founded the Ellerine Furniture Company in 1950, opening his first store at age 16 in Cyrildene, Johannesburg.

His brother, Sydney, joined as co-founder of the business two years later. Sydney passed away in 2009.

After experiencing immense growth, the retail chain was then listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1969. Over the years, it had expanded to Ellerine Holdings, a furniture retail company, encompassing other well-known brands such as Beares, Dial-a-Bed, Furniture City, Geen & Richards and Wetherlys.

Both Eric and Sydney retired from managing the company in 2000. The company merged with Relyant Retail Group in 2005.

Africa Bank Investments (Abil) then bought Ellerines in 2007 for R10.6 billion. However, the business became unprofitable and was placed in business rescue in 2014 after revenue decreased.-Fin24

Nampak says it will not tap shareholders

Nampak has vowed not to tap shareholders for any more money, with South Africa's largest packaging group saying it's looking to ensure its asset disposal strategy brings in the cash it requires.

CEO Phil Roux also emphasised on Monday it was now up to the company's management to show shareholders that the R1 billion they coughed up in September had been justified.

Responding to a question about the likelihood of another rights issue from Nampak at a full-year results presentation to analysts, Roux said he thought it would be "extremely inappropriate to go back to shareholders at this juncture".

"We had to convince them of the investment thesis to get us to this point. I think it is up to us. It is incumbent on management now to show them that the investment they made was worthwhile. I think they [shareholders] have been starved for a long time."

Therefore, Roux said, he "certainly wouldn't put new rights offer anywhere near our toolkit, if you will, for the future".-Fin24

Sygnia holds dividend steady

Sygnia maintained its annual dividend thanks to a modest uptick in after-tax profit and higher assets under management (AUM).

But the group, co-founded by current CEO Magda Wierzycka, saw outflows from both retail and institutional clients come under pressure amid emigration and dwindling job opportunities.

The Cape Town-headquartered asset manager reported on Monday its after-tax profit rose 4.5% to R300 million in the year ended September. A strong performance in its offshore funds and the local equity market helped assets under management and administration rise 11.6% to about R318 billion.

This allowed Sygnia to declare a final dividend of 123c per share from its income reserves, bringing its total to 210c.

"Sygnia's sustained profit growth in a challenging operating year is a testament to the resilience of our diversified business model and paints the picture of a healthy business set to keep growing," Wierzycka said in results. "We enter the new financial year confidently navigating difficult market conditions from a position of strength, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead."

Sygnia's revenue rose 4.3% to R844 million with its retail-focused asset pool, essentially investments made by individual consumers, increasing to 18% to R61.6 billion.-Fin24

Capitec ends funeral policy deal with Sanlam

After seven years, Capitec will end its funeral policy deal with Sanlam next year. The bank has been selling Sanlam-backed funeral policies to its clients as part of a joint venture.

But Capitec now has its own licensed insurer, Capitec Life, which can sell policies directly to its clients and will assume the administration of the current policies.

On Monday, Sanlam announced that Capitec gave notice that the agreement between them will come to an end on 31 October, 2024.

Some 2.4 million funeral policies (covering more than 11 million lives) have been signed as part of the agreement, according to a Capitec presentation in August this year. The group earned almost 4% of its total income from operations from the deal.

The announcement has been expected as Capitec long flagged that its agreement with Sanlam expires next year, says Kokkie Kooyman, a director at Denker Capital and the portfolio manager of the Denker Global Financial Fund. While the ending of the joint venture will have an impact on Sanlam, as a percentage of the Sanlam Group's income it is very small, Kooyman added.

In a statement, Sanlam said the deal had been "mutually beneficial and successful". –Fin24

Sibanye-Stillwater cuts over 1 000 gold jobs

Diversified commodities miner Sibanye-Stillwater has retrenched 575 employees from its Kloof 4 shaft following a Section 189 consultation process that commenced in September.

In a process that affected almost 2 400 employees, 550 accepted voluntary separation or early retirement packages. The group has also cut another 348 employees from across other gold operations, but a total of 1 057 employees accepted transfers to fill vacant positions at its other gold operations in South Africa. The cuts also affected 581 contractors, with some employees and contractors to be temporarily retained during decommissioning.

The move follows sustained losses at the operation near Carletonville, one of the world's deepest mines. The company said previously the process followed "unsuccessful attempts to address productivity issues and other operational constraints at the Kloof 4 shaft, including seismicity and cooling constraints."

Sibanye-Stillwater acquired Kloof in February 2013 when Gold Fields unbundled most of its SA gold mines to the new company, along with five other marginal mines in Gauteng and the Free State provinces.

"While the decision to close or restructure operations is never taken lightly, the closure of Kloof 4 shaft was necessary to curb ongoing financial losses," CEO Neal Froneman said in a statement. He added the consultation process "encouragingly achieved this required outcome while also reducing the number of retrenchments."-Fin24

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