Top deals making headlines this week

In focus this week: Brait, Pepkor, Steinhoff, Anglo American and more. 

Brait

Brait, owner of struggling UK apparel chain New Look, launched an overhaul of its operations as leading shareholder Christo Wiese seeks to salvage his investment after seeing his other retail assets plunge in value.

The investment company outlined a refinancing worth almost twice as much as its R7.1 billion market value and said the plan could result in a sale of assets, which also include Virgin Active gyms, within three to five years. 

Brait has been struggling to turn around New Look, which has been hit by the UK’s retail crisis as shoppers defect to trendier online fashion sellers such as Boohoo. The investment firm bought the chain for £780 million and now values it at zero. 

The problems at New Look have added to Wiese’s woes after the implosion at furniture retailer Steinhoff International, where he stepped down as chair after an accounting scandal. Read more here.

Pepkor

South African retailer Pepkor Holdings said on Monday it will exit Zimbabwe after an economic crisis in the country hurt its performance.

The company, whose brands include Pep StoresAckermans and Shoe City, has closed the remaining 20 stores in Zimbabwe, bringing to an end its 20-year presence in that country. Severe shortages of foreign currency, fuel and electricity have sent inflation soaring to its highest since 2008, and dashed hopes the economy might recover under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Robert Mugabe in 2017.

“The decision to exit Zimbabwe was based on the continued adverse macroeconomic conditions affecting trading and the weakening currency,” Pepkor’s statement said. Read more here

Steinhoff International

Steinhoff on Wednesday named Kapela Holdings as its Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) partner in its deal to sell its shareholding in car dealer network Unitrans

The retail conglomerate in March announced the share sale in Unitrans, which operates 99 dealerships throughout South Africa, but did not at the time name its B-BBEE partner. Steinhoff is selling 74.9 percent of the car dealership's share capital to CFAO Holdings South Africa, a 100 percent-owned subsidiary of CFAO, which falls under Japan's Toyota Tsusho Corporation

On Wednesday it said that Kapela had executed a share purchase agreement to buy the remaining 25.1 percent interest in Unitrans.

Steinhoff, which is led by Louis du Preez (pictured), did not give an estimated price for the transaction. Read more here

Anglo American

Anglo American said on Wednesday it had sold its minority stake in the Grosvenor coking coal mine in Australia for about $141 million (about R2.1 billion) to a consortium of Japanese companies.

The diversified miner, which has consistently been offloading coal operations since 2014, said its 12 percent interest has been acquired by a group that includes Nippon Steel Corp, Mitsui & Co, Nippon Steel Trading Corp, Shinsho Corp, and JFE Mineral Co.

The consortium already owned a 12 percent of Anglo’s next-door Moranbah North coal mine, which provides the processing infrastructure for Grosvenor, located in the Bowen Basin, central Queensland. Read more here

Intu Properties 

UK-focused retail landlord Intu Properties has sold a Northern Ireland retail park to property investment trust New River for £40 million. Intu Properties is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange

The sale of Sprucefield Retail Park in Lisburn brings Intu’s year-to-date disposals total to £268 million, as the shopping centre operator aims to fix its balance sheet. The company, which owns 17 malls in the UK and three in Spain, has been battered by uncertainty about the Brexit process, as well as changing retail conditions in the UK. Read more here.

Capital & Regional 

South Africa-based real estate company Growthpoint Properties has received approval from Capital & Regional shareholders to a R2.9 billion takeover deal of the latter company, which is headquartered in the UK.

According to Capital & Regional shareholders, more than 97 percent of its shareholders voted in favour of Growthpoint’s takeover offer.

Hugh Scott-Barrett, the chairman of Capital & Regional, said in a statement: “It is very pleasing to see such strong shareholder support for the proposed transaction, endorsing the board’s view that this will provide a transformational catalyst for the future growth of Capital & Regional.” Read more here.

Sirius Real Estate

Germany-focused business park owner Sirius Real Estate is planning further acquisitions during the second half of its year, seeking to take advantage of low financing costs and strong demand from tenants. Sirius Real Estate is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. 

Investor interest in industrial and office parks in Germany is driving yields and valuations down, the company said on Monday, but added this was partially due to lower finance costs, which it said it is well-positioned to take advantage of.

The company owns or manages 60 business parks around Germany and its portfolio had a book value of €1.06 billion (R17 billion) at the end of its six months to end-September. This is an about 6 percent decline in the book value the prior half-year. Read more here.