DIF­FI­CULT ROAD AHEAD

Finweek English Edition - - COVER STORY -

The de­cline in Al­tron came al­most un­no­ticed. For the bet­ter part of the last decade, the group, led by the Ven­ters, had grown in strength. It was prof­it­ing from its pay TV set-top box and the rapid growth in mo­bile phones pow­ered cel­lu­lar ser­vice provider, Al­tech Au­topage.

Though there were a cou­ple of bumps, there was lit­tle to in­di­cate that it was about to make some se­ri­ous blun­ders that would lead many to ques­tion the group’s lead­er­ship.

THE GOLDEN AGE

In 2009 Al­tron gen­er­ated a then record high of R24.76bn in an­nual rev­enue and it was close to be­ing – if it wasn’t al­ready – at the height of its pow­ers.

It had just gone through a growth spurt that had seen its rev­enue rise 146% and earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est, tax­a­tion, de­pre­ci­a­tion, and amor­ti­sa­tion (ebitda) had risen 164% over five years.

One an­a­lyst even com­mented that the Ven­ters do not seem to make bad ac­qui­si­tions.

But even back then there were signs (for

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