Vodacom: The listing that almost wasn't
Vodacom’s appearance on the bourses on Monday may go down as the listing that almost didn’t happen.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) this weekend sought a court interdict to prevent Vodacom from listing. But on Sunday the North Gauteng High Court dismissed the application with costs.
Cosatu has since called for a boycott of Vodacom products and services.
Despite the events at the weekend, the mood at the company’s listing event was light. ‘It’s not a listing requirement that you have to spend an entire weekend in court, it’s just something that came up,” quipped JSE chief executive Russell Loubser.
Loubser intimated that those attending should agree not to tell Cosatu that foreigners bought shares on the JSE every day.
When called on to speak, Pieter Uys, Vodacom’s chief executive, thanked attendees for ‘being patient and hanging in there”. This was a reference to the legal wranglings over the weekend rather than the event, which began on time.
Perhaps in an attempt to placate naysayers, Uys’s speech emphasised the company’s role in development in Africa and its desire to ‘serve communities”.
Despite the trying economic environment, Vodacom spared no expense at the listing event.
The Moet flowed freely after Uys blew the kudu horn, signifying that Vodacom had arrived at the JSE. Outside the auditorium, the Vodacom Voices, which had spent the morning belting out a capella versions of Shosholoza and The Click Song, began to sing ‘Yele yele Vodacom”, praising the company.
Noah Greenhill, senior general manager of marketing and business development at JSE Limited, which helped facilitate the event, said he hasn’t seen a change in the spend on listing events compared to last year.
‘I don’t think there’s necessarily a frantic holdback on the listing spend,” he said. ‘The spend is minute in context.”
Greenhill said the event was a marketing exercise rather than a listing requirement. ‘For half an hour, there’s this frenetic activity and then you’ve got to get back to the real world and produce the results that shareholders are expecting.”
Vodacom shares began trading at R59,50 and were up to R64,95 by the time the event wound down.