Johannesburg – Mettle, the specialist finance house, yesterday showed it had easily weathered the turbulent conditions affecting many of the country’s second tier financial services businesses when it reported a 46,9 percent increase in attributable profit to R44,5 million for the year to March 31. The results marked a year in which the structured products, corporate finance and investment banking solutions provider transformed its shareholder base to become an empowerment firm, after BoE exited its 30,8 percent stake and Hosken Consolidated Investments’ stake rose to 48 percent. Management now holds about 50 percent. But Gavin O’Connor, the managing director of Mettle, said the management had geared itself to acquire the BoE stake and that this was a sign of the strength of its commitment to the business. As a result of the larger number of shares in issue, earnings a share climbed 31,4 percent to 13,14c, giving a total dividend of 3,15c a share, covered just over four times. O’Connor said the growth was largely organic. While Mettle had eyed one or two opportunities to buy in the market, the chances of it buying anything were low. It would only do so at a discount and if there were a strategic benefit and he said “but we’d rather buy the people on a multiple of one”. The group notched up a return on equity of 30 percent, down on last year as a result of the lagged effect of HCI coming in as a shareholder last year, but still well ahead of the industry pack. He said Mettle was still keen to obtain a banking licence and a listing was still on the cards.

Source: Business Report – Richard Stovin_Bradford