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EMPOWERMENT FIRMS IN R270M BID FOR GOLDEN ARROW

08 Mar Transport

Cape Town`s municipal bus service Golden Arrow is likely to be in the hands of black economic empowerment companies Hosken Consolidated Investments and Mettle Limited by the end of the month for a price of R270 million. The board of Golden Arrow Bus Services is recommending to its shareholders they accept the bid, but trade union federation Cosatu plans to mobilise workers at Golden Arrow Bus Services to go to court, because they believe bus company workers were not given enough time to put their own offer on the table. Cosatu`s Western Cape regional secretary Tony Ehrenreich said Golden Arrow workers were not given an `opportunity to put a detailed offer` forward. Most of the workers do not belong to the SA Clothing and Textile Workers` Union, which owns a 50 percent stake in Golden Arrow. Ehrenreich said workers had a meeting yesterday and would decide this week what course of action to take, including the possible referral of the sale to the Competition Commission. Golden Arrow`s executive director, Barry Gie, announced yesterday: `Following months of negotiations, a firm offer to acquire all the shares in Golden Arrow Bus Services (Pty) Ltd has been formulated and presented to the board for consideration and recommended to its shareholders.` The shares are currently held by Golden Arrow Investment Holdings Limited and the Golden Arrow Foundation. Gie said there were six other offers on the table. In terms of the offer, Golden Arrow will continue to operate in its present form and all existing employment conditions will remain in place. Said Gie: `In considering the offer and recommending it to its shareholders, the board paid particular attention to the long-term benefits to the company, its customers, the community and the new shareholders. `The board took careful account of an interest vigorously pursued on behalf of a worker`s co-operative. However, given that nothing concrete or substantive was proposed in support of this interest, the board decided not to frustrate the positive offer from HCI and Mettle, whose financial resources and impeccable black economic empowerment credentials clearly serve the long-term interests of all the Golden Arrow stakeholders.` Marlene le Roux, chairwoman of the Golden Arrow Foundation, said: `Upon the successful implementation of the offer, the foundation will be strengthened and not be dependent on a single source of funds (50 percent of the dividends of the company). This will allow the foundation to freely and independently continue to realise its social responsibility objectives with a high level of financial security and to explore and access other sources of funding.` She added that all stakeholders, including workers, would benefit from the offer. But Ehrenreich contended that the sale would be `technically illegal` and disagreed with Gie and Le Roux that the rights of workers would best be served by accepting the offer of R270m. He added that the workers` representative, Yaseen Abrahams, who approved the sale to HCI and Mettle, `had absolutely no mandate from the workers`. `The sale disregarded all good governing principles and we will not allow it to go through,` said Ehrenreich. Golden Arrow`s Cape Town-based media relations officer, Vuyisile Mdoda, said he expected the deal to be concluded by the end of the month.

Source: Cape Times