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METTLE’S DELISTING NOW HANGS IN THE BALANCE

Cape Town – The delisting of niche financial services company Mettle hangs in the air following a shareholders’ meeting on Friday, with the ball now in the court of the JSE Securities Exchange. Mettle shareholders voted in favour of the delisting but did not pass a special resolution for Mettle to buy back its shares at 60c. According to a letter the JSE sent Mettle last week, that means the delisting cannot go ahead. The JSE is expected to respond to the outcome of the shareholders’ meeting this week. If it said no to delisting, Gavin O’Connor, the managing director of Mettle, indicated on Friday that Mettle’s management might take the JSE to court. In a letter sent to Mettle management last Thursday, received on the afternoon ahead of the shareholders’ meeting, the JSE said both the ordinary resolution for Mettle to delist and the special resolution on management’s proposal to buy back its shares at 60c needed to be passed for the delisting to be approved. Majority shareholder Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), which has a 40,8 percent stake in Mettle, was not allowed to vote on any special resolutions relating to buybacks in Mettle because of its shareholding. A Mettle spokesperson said that restriction resulted in the special buyback resolution not being passed. “The board now needs to consider what has happened,” he said, adding that Mettle was in talks with the the JSE on how to proceed. It also issued a cautionary because of the outcome of the shareholders’ meeting. Piet Viljoen, the chief investment strategist at Investec Asset Management who led minorities voting against the delisting and the buyback offer, said there was support from a lot of individual shareholders at the meeting. “It was dicey E we needed every vote [to block the special resolution] and in the end we just made it,” Viljoen said. Investec Asset Management believed a buyback offer of about R1,20 a share would be fair to minorities. Simon Marais, the executive chairman of Allan Gray, one of the institutions against the delisting and buyback offer, said the fact that the special resolution was voted down showed that minorities were becoming more active. Apart from various asset managers and HCI, other institutional shareholders include Sage and Worldwide Africa. Mettle’s shares edged 1c higher on Friday to close at 61c.

Source: Business Report – Vera von Lieres