HOSKEN Consolidated Investments CEO Johnny Copelyn admitted to shareholders at an AGM last week he was anxious about the levels of debt in the empowerment conglomerate. HCI’s annual report shows the current portion of borrowings at R1,45bn, with a further R345m listed under overdrafts Cash holdings were reflected as R895m With more than Ribnof debt at the centre of HCl, Copelyn said the group opted to sell off its minority stake in the SunCoast casino in Durban to Tsogo Sun for R5OOm HCl has spent the past few years building up a formidable position in the gaming sector with significant

stakes in Tsogo Sun, Gold Reef, the Caledon and Newcastle casinos as well as in limited payout machine (LPM) gaming. Those assets are strong cash flow generators.

Copelyn admitted it wasn’t a great time to sell a great asset like SunCoast “While we think we managed to get a decent price for our SunCoast investment the deal does reflect the pressure we were under at the time”

In the year to end March 2009, HCI’s interest bill taking into consideration longer term borrowings of R4,8bn topped R600m. Copelyn said HCl executives now felt much more comfortable about group debt levels “After the sale of the SunCoast stake I feel HCl is bulletproof again ”

Source: Finweek – Marc Hasenfuss