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LARGESSE AT LARGE

Directors squeeze wallets for charitable foundations

Johnny Copelyn and Marcel Golding – the former trade unionists and the leading lights of empowerment group Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) – top our directors’ dealings chart this week with donations to two charitable foundations valued at Rl 42,5m.

Given the sum of money involved, one would think that Copelyn and Golding would be proclaiming their generosity at the top of their lungs, eagerly awaiting the ensuing media frenzy. But, no. There wasn’t even a press release -just the droll, matter-of-fact Sens announcement stating that Copelyn had donated 4m shares to the HCI foundation and that Golding had given 500 000 shares to each of the HCI Foundation and the Wheatfield Estate Foundation.

Moreover, at the time of going to press, Copelyn was on holiday and unavailable for comment, and Golding, for reasons known only to him, wasn’t taking or returning calls from Finance Week.

There seems to be little public information available with regard to the Wheatfield Estate Foundation. A search on Aardvark, the SA Internet search engine, yielded only two results – both relating to Golding’s donation.

First mention of the HCI Foundation occurs in the group’s 2005 year-end results announcement released at end-June. The HCI stated: “The foundation has been constituted by way of a Second Deed of Amendment to the Golden Arrow Foundation” and that it would have assets of approximately R250m.

HCI bought Golden Arrow Bus Service, the sole commuter bus service in the Greater Cape Town area, for R250m in July last year.

According to the Golden Arrow Foundation’s 2004 financial statements on its website, it had assets of just more than R128m at end-June 2004, most of which came from the sale of its 50% share in the Golden Arrow Bus Service to HCI.

In other words, somewhere along the line Copelyn and Golding agreed to cough up the extra R125m or so to make up the difference to establish the HCI Foundation. What we don’t know is whether that was agreed to by some prior arrangement or whether, as former trade unionists, it just came from some heartfelt generosity. What we’d really like is to hear what they have to say about it.

What we can say is that it represents a large portion of their wealth. HCI’s 2004 annual report showed that Copelyn owned 11,49m shares in the group and Golding 4,67m. Both had options over another 4,89m shares at an exercise price of 271 c/share – in other words, they’re already sitting on a profit of R 133,4m each on their options at a current price of R30/share.

Source: Finance Week – Llewelyn Jones