Finweek English Edition - - Companies & markets - GUGU­LAKHE MASANGO

LISTED IN­DUS­TRIAL en­gi­neer­ing group Bell Equip­ment has se­cured a US$9,95m (R71,3m) fi­nanc­ing fa­cil­ity from Ex­port-Im­port Bank of the US to help im­port ma­chin­ery and com­po­nents.

The Richards Bay-based heavy equip­ment man­u­fac­turer im­ports spare parts, kits for as­sem­bly and com­pleted units of equip­ment from US-based John Deere Con­struc­tion and Forestry Com­pany, which man­u­fac­ture equip­ment used in var­i­ous types of earth­mov­ing, such as road build­ing and un­der­ground util­i­ties.

Bell Equip­ment in SA uses im­ported spares to ser­vice ex­ist­ing John Deere ma­chines sold in this coun­try.

On 10 May this year, Bell Equip­ment will sign the credit fa­cil­ity with Ex­portIm­port Bank. Bell Equip­ment chair­man Howard But­tery ex­pects the credit fa­cil­ity to be dou­bled within two years, but warns: “It all de­pends on the level of our im­ports from the US.”

But­tery says that Gov­ern­ment should sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment of an equiv­a­lent of the Ex­port-Im­port Bank. “If South African ex­porters hope to com­pete in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets they need to have fi­nance tools that will al­low them to com­pete with sup­port struc­tures avail­able in other coun­tries.”

The Ex­port-Im­port Bank as­sists US firms to ex­pand their busi­nesses by pro­vid­ing ex­port fi­nance that oth­er­wise wouldn’t have been avail­able. The bank en­sures that ex­port fi­nanc­ing is made avail­able for US goods and ser­vices world­wide.

Mean­while, the board of Bell Equip­ment has ap­proved man­age­ment’s re­quest for a $15m (R107m) in­vest­ment in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC) to set up a dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany there.

The group is also cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing its black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment trans­ac­tion. It has been en­gaged in talks with more than 25 bid­ders to se­lect a po­ten­tial em­pow­er­ment part­ner. Bell Equip­ment plans to sell 30% of its sales and dis­tri­bu­tion di­vi­sion in SA to an em­pow­er­ment part­ner, in which its black em­ploy­ees would own 7,5%.

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