Top deals making headlines this week

In focus this week: Implats, Long4Life, Weelee, Tiso Blackstar and more. 

Implats

Impala Platinum (Implats) has announced a deal to buy a Canadian palladium miner for almost R11.5 billion. 

The 25-year old North American Palladium (NAP) owns the Lac des Iles mine near Thunder Bay, Ontario, as well as two other exploration properties, including the Sunday Lake Project, also in Ontario. Implats has a 24 percent share in the project. NAP's Lac des Iles mine is a low-cost platinum group metals (PGM) producer, which is "fully mechanised with a low labour complement", said Implats.

Implats said the deal will help it to move away from high-cost, deep-level conventional mining. "The group is advancing its repositioning into a high-value, profitable and competitive PGM producer with a strong focus on low-risk, shallow, mechanised, palladium-rich assets."

Read more here

Tiso Blackstar

South Africa’s Competition Commission has recommended that the Competition Tribunal approve the proposed takeover of Tiso Blackstar Group’s media assets by Lebashe Investment Group without conditions. 

The commission found that the proposed transaction is unlikely to result in a substantial prevention or lessening of competition in any relevant markets. The commission further found that the proposed transaction does not raise any public interest concerns.

Tiso Blackstar is the South Africa-based publisher of Business Day, Financial Mail, the Sunday Times, Sowetan and other titles. In June, Tiso Blackstar has signed an agreement to sell its South African media, broadcasting and content businesses to Lebashe Investment Group for R1.05 billion. Read more here

Net 1 UEPS Technologies

Net 1 UEPS Technologies has exercised its option to acquire an additional 35 percent interest in Bank Frick & Co. AG, a fully licensed bank based in Balzers, Liechtenstein for $46,4 million (about. R713 million). On completion of the transaction Net 1 will own 70 percent of the bank with the Kuno Frick Family Foundation owning the remaining 30 percent. Bank Frick focuses on providing products and services for financial intermediaries such as asset managers, payment service providers and fintechs. 

Over the past three years, Net1 CEO Herman Kotzé said the group has an established presence in Europe, where it has acquired certifications and licences to operate its technologies. 

“We gave ourselves two years to determine if the market is viable and to complete the development of the technology required to compete effectively,” said Herman.

SweepSouth

SweepSouth, the online platform providing on-demand and regular home cleaning services, says it aims grow its market share in South Africa and launch additional services following the closure of a funding round that has seen the company raise more than R50 million in new investment.

The final deal signed in the funding round was with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which has invested $1 million (R14.5 million) into the company. This investment follows the June announcement of a R30 million investment by Naspers Foundry, a start-up fund aimed at boosting the South African technology sector.

In addition to Naspers Foundry and the Dell Foundation, existing investors Smollan, Vumela, CRE VC (previously Africa Angels Network), and musician and venture capitalist Black Coffee have also reinvested into SweepSouth bringing the total investment raised by SweepSouth in this round to more than R50 million. Read more here

Long4Life

South Africa-based investment group Long4Life has more than tripled its stake in Spur Corporation to 12.5 percent. Long4Life is led by former Bidvest CEO and founder Brian Joffe (pictured). The transaction, which is worth about R220 million, takes Long4Life’s interest in Spur from 4 percent to 12.5 percent.

The Spur includes the brands Panarottis Pizza Pasta, Spur Steak RanchesSpur Grill & GoJohn Dory’s Fish Grill Sushi, RocoMamasThe Hussar Grill, Casa Bellaand Nikos Coalgrill Greek. The purchase of 9.2-million Spur shares for about R24 per share on Friday also means Long4Life now holds 14.3 percent of the company’s shares in issue that have voting rights. Read more here.

Weelee

Pre-owned car retailer Weelee has been granted permission by the Competition Tribunal to intervene in the proposed takeover of its competitor WeBuyCars by Nasper’s subsidiary MIH eCommerce

In September 2018 MIH eCommerce, which owns car dealership AutoTrader, said it will buy 60 percent of WeBuyCars for R1.4 billion. In May, the Competition Commission, which assesses large mergers before referring them to the Tribunal for a final decision, recommended that the deal be blocked as it could lead to higher used-car prices in South Africa. 

The Tribunal said it had issued an order for Weelee to participate in the hearings. According to the commission, Weelee applied to be recognised as an “intervenor” in the merger proceedings arguing that it is a competitor to WeBuyCars and that while it has been called as a witness for the commission this status does not give it sufficient protections over its interests. Read more here

Agile Capital 

Agile Capital, a Private Equity Fund which pursues investments in a number of diverse sectors in the South African market, has acquired, via private equity fund Agile Capital IV, a significant stake in Averge Technologies for an undisclosed sum. 

Averge is a specialist turnkey solutions provider and distributor of components to the communications industry and energy sector.

Absa 

 Absa’s corporate and investment banking (CIB) unit plans to open an office in China as part of an expansion that will also target other parts of Asia and the Middle East, according to a report by Bloomberg. 

“Next year, we will be seeking strategic approval from our board for an on-the-ground presence in China,” Charles Russon, the division’s CEO, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “My hunch is it will be Beijing. It’s actually one of the questions we’ve asked the strategic team to figure out.”

SA’s third-largest bank has seen business involving the world’s second-biggest economy and its operations across 13 markets on the continent more than double this year, albeit from a small base, he said. The lender is aiming for multinational firms, such as Huawei Technologies, as part of an effort to boost revenue from the region by more than 10 percent as economic growth at home stutters.

“We spent a lot of time this year building out some of the Chinese speaking capability and delivery capability in some of our core markets — Kenya, Zambia, SA,” Russon said. “As you establish some of those relationships in mainland China you have actually got to have people on the ground who can execute on it and service the client locally. Middle East and Asia are probably further behind.”