Alexander Forbes to decide on public listing or trade sale

Alexander Forbes, Africa’s largest independent retirement-fund administrator, said shareholders are meeting this week to decide on whether to pursue a trade sale or an initial public offering.

To sell shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange this year Alex Forbes would have to announce its intention to list in the week starting June 23, chief executive Edward Kieswetter said in an interview in Johannesburg on Tuesday. “Our shareholders have to make the choice. If we list, it will very likely be by the end of July.”

Alex Forbes was delisted and bought by buyout companies including Actis LLP and Ethos Private Equity for R8.2-billion ($763-million) in 2007. As the private equity owners prepared to exit, Deutsche Bank and Rand Merchant Bank were hired last year to advise on both a sale to a trade buyer and an IPO. The company’s preference shares value the company at about R12-billion.

“We’ve considered expressions of interest from a number of potential buyers including local and foreign companies,” Kieswetter said, without giving more detail. “There have been deep due diligences done. We’ve also engaged with investment managers locally and overseas so that if we do a book build, it won’t be the first time they hear of it.”

The JSE requires companies to have published earnings in the three months before listing, meaning Alex Forbes will have to wait until after half-year results at the end of the year if it doesn’t push the button on the process in the next few days.

Alex Forbes will hold a general meeting for shareholders in Johannesburg on June 20, the company said earlier this month. It published earnings for the full-year through March on June 9. – Bloomberg

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