Someone had to come in and arbitrate in Brait’s affairs

Business

Someone had to come in and arbitrate in Brait’s affairs

While its future might not be as laid out in the Arbiter document, there’s no doubt it will be dramatic

Ann Crotty

The so-called Arbiter project would see two of SA’s most colourful business personalities coming together in an attempt to rescue investment holding company Brait from a prolonged period of value destruction. Of course, as everyone involved stresses, it is still very early days, and the proposal might never see the light of day. But the prospect of Christo Wiese and Brian Myerson playing lead roles in what would be a high-profile commercial transaction is, from a media perspective, delightful.

Wiese, as they say, needs no introduction. But South African-born Myerson, who co-founded Principle Capital in 2004 and was an extremely active activist investor in the UK for several years, has maintained a fairly low profile since 2010 when the UK takeover authorities banned him for three years. Bans by the UK takeover authorities happen about once every 20 years or so.

While Brait’s future might not be precisely as laid out in the Arbiter document, there’s no doubt the next several months will be dramatic ones for this once-high-flying investment company. Indeed, all things considered, it’s remarkable nothing significant has yet been done to sort out its near-crippling problems; these include hefty debt and generally poorly performing operating assets, or in the case of UK retailer New Look, dismally performing ones...

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