Zimbabwean businessman’s bid to take over Tongaat Hulett scuttled


The TRP investigation has forced Tongaat to make yet more disclosures about who is actually behind the R2-billion bid to control the company.

Tongaat and Magister have both bent over backwards to deny the involvement of Simon Rudland, claiming his little brother Hamish cannot be tainted by the ever-present allegations around Simon’s dealings.

During the TRP investigation it has finally been revealed that Simon’s three daughters – Sarah, Emma and Hannah – are the “ultimate beneficiaries” of a 41.33% share in Magister.

This shareholding had been completely disguised when the deal was presented to shareholders and the investing public.

Magister was instead described as being “controlled” by the Casa Trust for the benefit of Hamish and his immediate family with the strong impression that they had sole ownership. In reality the Casa Trust owns 58.67% of Magister.

The direct involvement of his three daughters brings Simon Rudland far closer to the Tongaat deal than the sugar group or Magister had let on.

Simon’s Gold Leaf has been persistently accused of operating in the illicit tobacco market and was recently raided by the SA Revenue Service while at least one local bank, Sasfin, has raised internal alarms about the company’s international transactions. Circumstantial evidence has also tied Rudland to the world of illicit gold making the association a mammoth reputational and possibly financial liability for Tongaat.

If the Magister deal falls through, it will mean the end of Tongaat management’s foremost plan to reduce the sugar group’s crippling debt burden, which has been used to keep creditors temporarily at bay.

In a cautionary announcement on the JSE’s SENS news service this week Tongaat told shareholders that its lenders have made a seasonal overdraft facility available “earlier than previously anticipated”.

“In addition, the lenders have granted an extension to 30 June 2022 on all key debt reduction milestones including, inter alia, the date to implement the proposed rights offer,” said the company.

While the consequences might be severe, Nduli says in his report that this cannot be a consideration in the TRP’s findings.

“Whilst this determination places the underwriting promised by Magister to [Tongaat] in a potentially precarious position, the reality is that the panel cannot avoid making such determination based on commercial considerations.”- Amabhungane


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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