Finweek English Edition - - Companies & markets - GUGU­LAKHE MASANGO

SA PRIVATE air char­ter and leas­ing group, Norse Air, is pre­par­ing to list on Lon­don’s Al­ter­na­tive In­vest­ment Mar­ket (AIM). How­ever, a sec­ondary list­ing on the JSE’s AltX might also make sense for the com­pany, whose foot­print cov­ers the con­ti­nent. Norse Air is 43% owned by Lon­rho and op­er­ates pri­mar­ily in South Africa and Mau­ri­tius. It also op­er­ates in Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mada­gas­car, Mali and Mozam­bique, and out­side the con­ti­nent in Afghanistan and Sin­ga­pore.

David Leni­gas, joint ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Lon­rho, says: “We will be float­ing the busi­ness in Lon­don by the end of the year.” The group is likely to fi­nalise the terms of the list­ing by end-July. Asked if it would make sense to have a sec­ondary list­ing on the JSE, Leni­gas said no de­ci­sion had been taken on that.

Norse Air CEO Dave Avnit said a Lon­don list­ing was es­sen­tial be­cause most of its busi­ness was off­shore. He said there had been plans for an AIM list­ing even be­fore the ar­rival of Lon­rho as a share­holder. “The Lon­rho in­vest­ment has as­sisted in ex­e­cut­ing the list­ing plan. We have a com­mon approach and ob­jec­tive about the growth of this busi­ness,” said Avnit.

Leni­gas said the group was List­ing Norse Air to bring in for­eign cap­i­tal to boost the growth of the busi­ness. Lon­rho paid $6m (R44m) in Novem­ber last year for its in­ter­est in the com­pany af­ter re­ceiv­ing South African Re­serve Bank ap­proval.

Since then, Norse Air has se­cured lu­cra­tive con­tracts with the South African Na­tional Trea­sury and An­gloGold Ashanti.

Trea­sury has re-awarded a two-year con­tract to Norse Air for hir­ing air­craft and he­li­copters to the SA Gov­ern­ment. The con­tract, which will ex­pire in Fe­bru­ary 2009, is worth about R25m. In Fe­bru­ary, Norse Air also clinched its big­gest avi­a­tion con­tract, worth an an­nual $10m (R73m), with global gold pro­ducer An­gloGold Ashanti. This con­tract, which will boost turnover by more than 40%, will re­quire Norse Air to sup­ply the gold miner with a Boe­ing 737 Quick Change air­craft to trans­port pas­sen­gers and cargo to the group’s mines in Ghana and Mali.

Avnit says the An­gloGold Ashanti con­tract should push Norse Air’s an­nual rev­enue to be­tween $35m (R258m) and $40m (R295m).

Norse Air has op­er­ated air­craft for the In­ter­na­tional Red Cross, the United Na­tions and the World Food Pro­gramme.

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