Si­lence is Gold­ing

Financial Mail - Investors Monthly - - Opening Bell -

For­mer trade union­ist Mar­cel Gold­ing has kept a low pro­file since his ac­ri­mo­nious exit in late 2014 from Hosken Con­sol­i­dated In­vest­ments (HCI), the em­pow­er­ment be­he­moth he served in an ex­ec­u­tive ca­pac­ity for about 20 years.

Though Gold­ing and fel­low for­mer trade union­ist Johnny Cope­lyn served as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and CEO re­spec­tively, the con­sen­sus in the mar­ket was that the for­mer was tasked mainly with run­ning HCI’s me­dia in­ter­ests while the deal-mak­ing was largely the sphere of the lat­ter.

Gold­ing might well be out to prove that his cor­po­rate acu­men is not lim­ited to me­dia mat­ters only.

Re­cently, in his Geomer cor­po­rate guise, he bought a strate­gic stake in small fash­ion re­tailer Rex True­form (the owner of the Queenspark chain) and its pyra­mid hold­ing com­pany African & Over­seas En­ter­prises as part of a con­sor­tium that in­cludes re­spected in­vest­ment man­ager Hugh Roberts.

What the con­sor­tium’s plans are for Rex­tru and Af&Over are not clear at this point. Un­der­stand­ably, there are ru­mours that Gold­ing, who is also a size­able share­holder in en­gi­neer­ing com­pany Esor, aims to in­ject new op­er­at­ing as­sets into Rex­tru.

But a sub­se­quent Sens an­nounce­ment stip­u­lated that the con­sor­tium did not fore­see any change to the na­ture of Rex­tru’s busi­ness.

Per­haps the more crit­i­cal ques­tion is whether the con­sor­tium will have any say in the run­ning of Rex­tru and Af&Over with the Shub fam­ily en­trenched as de facto con­trol­ling share­hold­ers via the pyra­mid hold­ing com­pany and the N-share struc­ture.

Roberts, as an ex­ist­ing large share­holder in the com­pa­nies, will know that Brim­stone — the em­pow­er­ment com­pany from which the con­sor­tium bought its shares — en­dured a frus­trat­ing few years try­ing in vain to add and un­lock value at an ul­tra­con­ser­va­tively man­aged Rex­tru.

In­ter­est­ingly, the con­sor­tium’s trans­ac­tion has trig­gered a manda­tory of­fer to all Rex­tru and Af&Over share­hold­ers.

Not­ing the lack of liq­uid­ity in the shares, it’s pos­si­ble that more than a few mi­nori­ties might ca­pit­u­late their po­si­tions.

Af&Over, which holds 72% of Rex­tru’s vot­ing rights, have not sig­nalled their in­ten­tions around the manda­tory of­fer, but the Shub fam­ily has made clear it is not let­ting go of any shares in Af&Over.

It should be fas­ci­nat­ing to see how this all gets sewn up in the next few months.

Pic­ture: iSTOCK

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