Just seven years ago Al­tron was mak­ing al­most R25bn in an­nual rev­enue, but costly blun­ders have re­duced the group – led by the en­ter­pris­ing Ven­ter fam­ily – to a shadow of its for­mer self. Now there is hope that a rad­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing, in­clud­ing of its ma

Finweek English Edition - - COVER STORY -

for a time it looked like Al­lied Elec­tron­ics (Al­tron) could do no wrong. Founded by Bill Ven­ter as an elec­tronic com­po­nent maker in 1965, the group grew into a pow­er­house on the JSE that em­ploys over 12 000 peo­ple and op­er­ates on three con­ti­nents.

Over the years, Al­tron’s three ma­jor sub­sidiaries – soft­ware group Bytes Tech­nol­ogy Group, ICT firm Al­lied Tech­nolo­gies (Al­tech) and its en­ergy spe­cial­ist Pow­ertech – had grown into siz­able op­er­a­tions, with Bytes and Al­tech for a time even be­ing listed com­pa­nies in their own right.

Al­though Al­tron is a listed com­pany, the Ven­ters’ hold over it is close to ab­so­lute. Bill (81) stepped down as its chief ex­ec­u­tive in 2001 and re­mains the group’s non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, while his son Rob­bie is Al­tron’s CEO. Craig, Bill’s other son, served as CEO of Al­tech they were about to em­bark on a new growth streak, the Ven­ters’ golden touch de­serted them and they ended up mak­ing some costly blun­ders (see side­bar).

The end re­sult is that Al­tron is go­ing through a tricky and rad­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing that will even­tu­ally also leave the Ven­ters a step re­moved from the group.

Al­tron’s new struc­ture sees it be­com­ing a very dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tion. Where it was once a broad-rang­ing tech­nol­ogy group that made every­thing from car bat­ter­ies to soft­ware, it will even­tu­ally be made up of Al­tron Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, Mul­ti­me­dia and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (TMT), which in­cludes Al­tech and Bytes, and some re­main­ing el­e­ments of its power divi­sion.

The plan also in­cludes mov­ing away from a fam­ily-man­aged busi­ness to an in­de­pen­dent man­age­ment struc­ture. How­ever, it re­mains un­clear when this process will be fi­nalised and when Rob­bie Ven­ter will step down as CEO, and when, or if, Bill Ven­ter plans to va­cate his po­si­tion as chair­man. The fam­ily will re­tain its ma­jor­ity hold­ing in the group.

Al­tron is go­ing through a tricky and rad­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing that will even­tu­ally also leave the Ven­ters a step re­moved from the group.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.