Bus company to be placed under prominent BEE shareholder. Listed investment-holding group, Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), best known as the principal shareholder in free-to-air television station e.tv, announced Tuesday that its acquisition of Golden Arrow Bus Services (GABS), for R270-m, has been finalised following the fulfilment of all relevant conditions precedent. This means GABS would be placed under the control of a prominent black empowerment shareholder, “marking a new history in its long history”, HCI said in a statement. Golden Arrow has a sprawling business scope, it serves the entire metropolitan Cape Peninsula and Cape Flats area – including areas such Bellville, Milnerton, Durbanville, Kuilsriver, Mitchells Plain, Langa, Guguletu, Nyanga, Crossroads and Khayelitsha. The bus company’s history stretches back to 1861 when it traded as the Cape Town and Green Point Tramway Company. The statement added that existing executive directors will remain on the GABS board which will be bolstered with the appointments of Elias Mphande as Chairman and Marcel Golding (chairman of HCI) as deputy. Virginia Engel and Reyburn Hendricks have also appointed as non-executive directors. HCI is a major shareholder in Mettle, the financial structuring specialists. Marcel Golding, HCI’s chairman, said: “It is HCI’s intention to ensure the continued success of GABS in bringing reliable scheduled bus services to the Western Cape communities. HCI is cognisant of the government’s transformation policies in the transport industry and is committed to engaging with it on an ongoing basis.” Golding added that he was delighted that the transaction had been concluded and that HCI looked forward to playing a meaningful role in the Western Cape transport industry into the future. Nic Cronje, the GABS CEO, said “Golden Arrow is pleased and excited at the prospect of having an empowerment shareholder of HCI’s standing. “Having a shareholder with a large social base in the form of the investment arm of the SA Clothing and Textile Worker’s Union (the largest shareholder in HCI’s ownership structure) will align our bus service even more with its commuters,” said Cronje. In addition, says Cronje, HCI’s financial and management acumen will be a significant asset to the organisation. Golding enthused that the transaction affords HCI a unique opportunity to play a very active role in the development of the Western Cape. “SACTWU has a significant presence in the Western Cape and its members rely heavily on public transport,” said Golding. “This addition to HCI’s investment portfolio will enable us to ensure that an important driver of the economy continues to meet the needs of our constituency.” The recent past of the bus company has been tinged with some controversy. There were allegations by the crime busters, the Scorpions, that Golden Arrow management had plundered a R35-m transport subsidy. The group has also been targeted by taxi bodies, which sometimes resort to violent means to protect their perceived turf.

Source: Moneyweb Digest – Chris Nthite