Diversified listed group Hosken Consolidated Investments yesterday said its spread of businesses delivered strong results in the year to March, but issued a stark warning to the government to sort out the mess with payment to private bus operators or risk chaos in the public transport sector.

The group, with interests in companies ranging from Tsogo Sun to free-to-air commercial broadcaster e.tv, said revenue went up from R5,43bn to R8,O6bn, but headline earnings per share dropped 54% to 255c.

Among other negative developments, the results had been affected by the consolidation of the troubled Seardel Group, which reported significant losses during the period under review.

CEO Johnny Copelyn said growth in the media businesses and the first-time consolidation of Seardel and the Cullinan Hotel were the most significant drivers of growth in revenue.

Copelyn said the television business performed well, despite the general economic decline, with spending on advertising increasing. though at a slower rate. E.tv experienced a steady gain in market share of the.expenditure.p> In the gaming, hotels and leisure division, Tsogo Sun registered an increase of 8% in revenue to R5,92bn, again defying tough market conditions in the hotel sector. Despite the tough times facing hotels, Copelyn said high-profile events such as the Indian Premier League tournament, the British and Irish Lions rugby tour and the Confederations Cup would boost occupancy, laying the ground for the group to benefit further from the Soccer World Cup.

He said Golden Arrow Bus Services had also performed well, despite high diesel costs, but was forced to litigate to make the government pay,’ the R100m it owed. Copelyn had no kind words for the decision by the government to renege on promises to pay outstanding amounts to bus companies. SUch action was putting it on a collision course with bus companies, which might be forced to terminate their services, he said.

Source: Business Day – Sure Kamhunga