Investors are scared, but people aren’t scared enough for Rupert

Business

Investors are scared, but people aren’t scared enough for Rupert

Gloom pervaded Remgro’s AGM, not least since the chairman is determined to sit on the group’s R10bn cash

Ann Crotty


Remgro’s annual general meetings are generally engaging affairs and worth the trip all the way out to the heart of the winelands where they’re held each year. This year, shareholders were treated to a reminder of just how scary things were a year ago on the domestic political front.
And, sadly, how scary things remain for investors around the globe.
Chairperson Johann “The Bear” Rupert told the hundreds of shareholders who had pitched up for the meeting that one of his major concerns was that people do not realise just how much trouble we’re in. The current global situation is eerily like the 1920s, he said.
Despite concerted efforts not to be drawn on the performance of Remgro’s many listed investments, Rupert did eventually commit to taking another look at underperforming food company RCL.
He also indicated Remgro would not be introducing the same sort of controversial executive incentive scheme recently adopted by its banking investment arm, RMH.
Judging by the mood after the meeting it was very likely Rupert had not needed to remind his audience how bad things were. A distinct glumness pervaded the reception held immediately after the meeting, which may explain why so many said yes to the wine at 11.30 in the morning.
And while only two shareholders had bothered to indicate their concerns during the meeting, many more expressed them off the record after it. The discontent seemed inevitable given the disappointing share price performance in recent years.
Not everyone is happy that Rupert is determined to continue sitting on the group’s R10bn cash until asset prices fall. “People are not scared enough yet,” he explained.
One institutional shareholder suggested Rupert should take advantage of the current overpricing to sell some of Remgro’s underperformers.
The terrifying thought is that next year Rupert might confirm people are now scared enough.

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