GT Ferreira and his wine farm workers say bye to a billion

Business

GT Ferreira and his wine farm workers say bye to a billion

No thanks to major investment in sinking Steinhoff

Ann Crotty

Respected banker GT Ferreira, who co-founded FirstRand with Paul Harris and Laurie Dippenaar, has seen more than R1-billion of his wealth wiped out by the collapse of Steinhoff as his own direct investment in the retail group has collapsed to a fraction of its initial value. In addition, workers on his wine farm, Tokara, who were invested in Steinhoff have seen that investment shrink to just a few million rand.Ferreira purchased around 5.96 million shares in Steinhoff in July 2015 just four months before the group transferred its primary listing from the JSE to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In July 2015 Steinhoff was trading at around R78 a share putting a value of R460-million on Ferreira’s investment. The South African share register reveals that Ferreira still holds 5.96-million Steinhoff shares. They are currently worth R18-million.
In addition, the share register reveals that an entity called the Tokara BEE Trust and an entity called Tokara Employees Trust had 5.2 million and 4.9 million shares respectively in Steinhoff at the end of November 2017. Tokara is the name of Ferreira’s wine estate, which is located just outside Stellenbosch. The Tokara Workers Trust was set up by Ferreira shortly after he bought the farm in 1994. The farm’s website says the trust was set up “for the entire workforce to look after their future individual needs”. A third entity called Arakot owned 1.4 million Steinhoff shares.The total value of Tokara shares ahead of the December collapse was R714-million. They are currently worth R34.4-million. This means the collapse of Steinhoff has reduced the Ferreira/Tokara investment to R52-million from R1.17-billion.
The link with Ferreira was highlighted after last week’s announcement that Steinhoff’s European property portfolio could be overstated by as much as 50%. The news caused jitters among shareholders in RMB Holdings (RMH), which recently acquired a 44% stake in Steinhoff-aligned Atterbury Europe. The announcement has shone a light on Steinhoff’s property interests, which, through Atterbury, appears to connect key players in the South African financial community.In addition to Ferreira’s RMH, the Atterbury-aligned players include former head of Sanlam Investment Management and current co-CEO of African Rainbow Capital Johan van der Merwe; one of the founding shareholders of Coronation, Thys du Toit; and Allen Swiegers, who was a partner with Deloitte for 33 years until 2016.Du Toit was previously CEO of Coronation Fund Managers, which had a significant exposure to Steinhoff and which has nominated two appointees to the Steinhoff supervisory board.
Swiegers, was not only a partner at Steinhoff’s audit firm but is chairperson of the board of Atterbury Property Fund and a nonexecutive director of Steinhoff Retail Africa.
Van der Merwe’s co-CEO at African Rainbow Capital is Johan van Zyl, who was former CEO of Sanlam and was appointed to the Steinhoff supervisory board in 2016. Sanlam was a significant investor in Steinhoff.Ferreira had been chairperson of RMH since its inception in 2010 until his retirement at the end of March 2018. On Friday Herman Bosman, CEO of RMH, said that RMH subscribed for a 43.8% shareholding in Atterbury Europe in January 2018.
“This was a natural extension of the partnership with the Atterbury group, and its founder Louis van de Watt, as RMH has a 27.5% shareholding in Atterbury Property Holdings,” said Bosman.
Until December 2017 Steinhoff was a 50% shareholder in Atterbury Europe. In December, shortly after news of accounting irregularities and the collapse of the Steinhoff share price, the Steinhoff stake was repurchased by Atterbury Europe. One analyst said that by subscribing for the shares it appears that RMH effectively funded the repurchase of the Atterbury Europe stake from Steinhoff.
He added that from the perspective of RMH shareholders it would have made more sense to wait until Steinhoff had been forced to sell the property investment at a possible discount. Although Steinhoff was a 50% shareholder in Atterbury Europe, Bosman said the property portfolio was acquired and developed by Atterbury CEO Louis van der Watt and the management team at Atterbury Europe.
“It existed separately and independently of Steinhoff,” said Bosman.
BusinessLIVE was unable to contact Ferreira for comment on the developments.

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