Cape Times

Eight bidders show interest in Gupta-linked mines |

Eight bidders have so far entered the sale process of Optimum and Koornfonte­in mines


THE SALE OF the Gupta-linked Optimum and Koornfonte­in mines could be concluded by the end of next month.

Business rescue practition­er Louis Klopper said yesterday that eight bidders had entered the sale process. Bidders were scheduled to complete the due diligence for the sale by mid June and creditors were expected to vote on the most compelling proposal thereafter. Eskom and Centaur are the two biggest creditors who have submitted claims of R5 billion and R1bn respective­ly.

“We are planning to meet with creditors to vote on the successful bidder in mid-July,” said Klopper, who was appointed as the business rescue practition­er in 2018 to save the mines from liquidatio­n.

He said the successful bidder would have to negotiate a coal supply agreement with Eskom and also meet the terms and conditions set by the business rescue practition­ers.

The failure of the mine management to invest in the assets was exacerbate­d in 2017 when banks cancelled transactio­nal banking facilities amid allegation­s of state capture.

The mines have not been supplying coal since last year and employees were last paid in November.

The National Union of Mineworker­s Highveld regional secretary, Tshilidzi Mathavha, said the union had no confidence in the sale.

“We are doubting this process. The business rescue process must be concluded by the business rescue. However, I believe Eskom and Centaur are dictating the process,” Mathavha said.

The union has previously raised concerns that the assets have been a cash cow for the business rescue practition­ers who have yet to conclude the sale. “As they make money on a monthly basis, ordinary workers have been left without earnings for months,” the union said.

In December Project Halo emerged as the preferred bidder for the assets, but the creditors insisted on a new sales process.

Earlier this week, Mines and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said he was concerned about the protracted nature of the business rescue process.

“We are worried about the time it has taken and the changes that happen every time. The easiest way to deal with Optimum and Koornfonte­in is to put it on auction. Give it to people and let them run it,” Mantashe told the Junior Indaba in Johannesbu­rg.

“I am very uncomforta­ble with the process of Optimum and Koornfonte­in. It is a corrupt system. Something is not going right. Workers there have been out for over a year.

“I think the PCF (post-commenceme­nt funding) is a corrupt system. The process of business rescue practition­ers and liquidator­s must be revisited. There needs to be strict rules.”

The business rescue practition­ers received more than R175 million in PCF for the mines and they have previously said that without CPF funding, the mines would have been liquidated.

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