New chairperson, BEE initiative for Bidvest

Bidvest, the industrial group with interests in distribution, service and trading businesses, on Tuesday announced that it is to separate the role of chairperson and chief executive while launching a major new black economic empowerment (BEE) initiative.

Cyril Ramaphosa, a leading South African businessman, is the group’s new non-executive chairperson.

Brian Joffe, previously executive chairperson, continues in the role of chief executive. His executive responsibilities are unchanged.

As chief executive, Joffe will ensure the continuation of the strategies that have delivered unprecedented success for Bidvest since inception 16 years ago, the company said.

It added that the appointment of Ramaphosa adds further impetus to the group’s successful BEE strategy while entrenching a long-standing relationship between the business leader and Bidvest.

Joffe commented: “Bidvest is delighted to welcome a business leader of Cyril Ramaphosa’s stature as our new chairman. I am positive he will make a significant contribution to our strategic direction as Bidvest pursues exciting opportunities for growth.”

Millennium Consolidated Investments (MCI), the black-owned and -managed company chaired by Ramaphosa, will by agreement obtain a 15% stake in Dinatla Investment Holdings (Dinatla). Dinatla, led by WDBIH and Bassap, acquired a 15% stake in Bidvest in December 2003.

Dinatla is a broad-based consortium established to create value for a wide range of community groups, women’s organisations and BEE entrepreneurs across every province of South Africa.

Since the commencement of the Dinatla transaction, it has taken up four seats on the Bidvest board, seven new HDI commercial directors have been appointed in the divisions, the Bidvest charter has been drawn up and open days between Dinatla and Bidvest companies have been held throughout the country to form linkages for BEE procurement opportunities.

Ramaphosa noted: “Significant value has been created by Dinatla through its investment in Bidvest. MCI recognises that value and believes that MCI’s investment into Dinatla will forge a stronger partnership with one of South Africa’s leading industrial groups to add further significant value to all Dinatla shareholders.”

Sechaba Kies, chairperson of Dinatla, noted: “On behalf of Dinatla, we are very happy to welcome Cyril Ramaphosa and MCI into our fold. We look forward to working with them for the benefit of all Dinatla shareholders.”

At the same time, Bidvest has announced the creation of a new BEE investment vehicle only months after the launch of its successful BEE partnership with the Dinatla consortium, further strengthening existing relationships. The new initiative has been named Dinatla New Ventures.

Dinatla New Ventures will pursue large investment opportunities and will be positioned as a potential empowerment partner capable of adding value to any business in which it makes an investment. It is planned to explore appropriate investment possibilities forthwith, focusing on areas that involve no competition or conflicts with Bidvest’s current activities.

Brian Joffe emphasised that “Bidvest’s investment policy will be unaffected by the establishment of Dinatla New Ventures and will continue as previously”.

Dinatla New Ventures creates a unique BEE company that not only has impeccable BEE credentials but can call on considerable operational business expertise (via the Bidvest link) and access to substantial resources and funds. Dinatla New ventures will be 51% owned by Dinatla shareholders, including MCI.

The funding partners — Bidvest, Investec, Old Mutual and Standard Bank — own 49% of the equity and are committed to providing significant capital to enable Dinatla New Ventures to pursue investment opportunities.

Bidvest also announced that the post of deputy chairperson is to be discontinued following the resignation of Fani Titi, who agreed to remain as deputy chairperson until the new leadership structure had been finalised.

“We thank Fani Titi for his work as deputy chairman over the last 18 months. He made an important contribution and provided new insights, particularly in guiding Bidvest’s transformation process. However, he runs a large organisation and we respect his wish to focus on these activities.” said Joffe.

In addition, Brian Connellan, a director of numerous listed companies, has been appointed an alternate non-executive director of Bidvest, serving on the strategy and acquisitions committee. — I-Net Bridge

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