Cape Town – Listed empowerment firm Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), which has a 40,8 percent stake in niche financial services group Mettle and a 5 percent interest in Vodacom, posted improved half-year results yesterday, halving the attributable loss to shareholders. HCI, which invests in sectors including media, cellular communications and financial services, said it would support the delisting of Mettle at a shareholders’ meeting tomorrow. The move to exit from the exchange could result in Mettle becoming a subsidiary of HCI. The attributable loss for the six months to September came to R28,1 million from a loss of R68,7 million, while the operating loss was also cut to R4,9 million from a previous loss of R7,4 million. The dividend was withheld as HCI said it required cash resources for further investments. Cash holdings at the end of the six-month period were R114,3 million from R12,6 million a year ago. Marcel Golding, the chairman of HCI, said the 5 percent stake in unlisted cellular network operator Vodacom remained unchanged during the period. Vodacom upped headline earnings by 41 percent to R965,3 million in the six months to September and directors were confident of satisfactory returns from Vodacom in the future, despite the entry of Cell C into the local market. Television station, part of HCI’s subsidiary Midi-TV, continued to make progress over the last year. Its audience share was now almost 16 percent during the evening and higher than that on a 24-hour basis. Golding said: “We believe the station remains on target to break even during the second half of our next financial year.” HCI expected to commit further resources to until its turnaround was completed. Management had decided to convert about half of its debts in internet gaming company Online Gaming Systems to ordinary equity. The investment was speculative but Online Gaming had good prospects of concluding contracts which would make it profitable over time. The focus for the next 12 months was on consolidating and extracting value from interests in the various sectors where HCI had invested, including some start-up businesses which had what it called “blue-sky potential”. The share price ended unchanged at R3 yesterday. Its high for the year was R5,50, reached in February.

Source: Business Report – Vera von Lieres