There might be an end to CFR/Adcock twists and turns

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It seems that some certainty might return to Adcock’s life in the not too distant future. After spending 11 months at the centre of a veritable whirlpool of controversy, speculation, rumour, offer and counter-offer things might just settle down soonish and management will be allowed to get on with the business of managing the company.

Although, after being in play for 11 months, it might still be too early to say anything definitive about this company or this transaction, which has generated all manner of unexpected twists and turns.

Neither CFR nor Adcock responded to approaches for comment on yesterday’s dramatic development, which saw Bidvest pick up enough shares to ensure that it could block CFR’s proposed transaction. It may be that they are working on a plan to rescue something from what right now looks like ashes.

Or perhaps they are trying to work out who will have to pay the costs for a transaction that has been six months in the making and which must have involved serious amounts of advisory fees.

With the Tuesday deadline, for Bidvest’s R70 a share offer, edging steadily closer the prospect of the CFR deal failing and the Adcock share price dropping back to about R55 must have weighed heavily on Adcock shareholders.

Or at least those shareholders with 39 million shares.

Even at this late stage there is considerable uncertainty around the CFR transaction and there’s also the matter of the recent weakness in the CFR share price.

The CFR team told an exciting story but surely it’s now time to ensure that the Adcock management is allowed to focus on the more mundane task of how to make the most of their assets.

They have not been too successful on this front in recent years and despite Brian Joffe’s, the chief executive of Bidvest, comments about mending bridges it is difficult not to believe that some have been burnt too badly to be mended.

Gaming

Rising costs including higher salaries and wages and smaller profits from its South African gaming operations have caused Sun International to start consultations aimed at making operations more efficient and profitable, it announced this week. The statement said about 1 700 jobs in this country could be affected but emphasised that retrenchments, “if applicable”, would be a last resort and not to be undertaken lightly. It said a similar process had been carried out at its Chilean operation near Santiago where, as in this country, profits from gaming were hit by a ban on smoking in casinos among other factors.

Chief executive Graeme Stevens said the focus on discussions would be on becoming more efficient and productive.

A number of initiatives had already been introduced and were already having an effect. But, he explained, over the past six years revenue from South African activities had risen by only 17 percent, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation actually falling because of escalating costs, while over the same period costs had risen by 39 percent and the minimum wage by 47 percent.

Profits had also been affected by competition from new forms of gaming that had become popular. Although he did not identify these, an increase in the number of limited pay-out machines installed in cafes and other public places is causing Sun International to close a casino and hotel on the outskirts of Pretoria, to be replaced by new, larger operations at the new town of Menlyn Maine on the other side of the city.

However, profits from gaming are likely to be given a shot in the arm by an expected big increase in the number of Chinese visitors to this country later this year.

Indications are that South Africa will be a popular holiday destination for them and gaming is known to be one of their favourite recreations, with Sun City and Sun International’s GrandWest casino in Cape Town attracting many in the past.

Social media

Did you know that in just two tweets indirectly related to Mamphela Ramphele’s floor-crossing to the DA, comedian Trevor Noah had notched up an advert value equivalent of R528 294 on social media site Twitter.

In addition, Noah created 730 engagements (reshares and replies) and 2.3 million opportunities-to-see (an individual’s numerical chances of viewing a display).

Noah tweeted: “And in other news Bafana Bafana join England to help them win the world cup.” which was retweeted 506 times.

BrandsEye, a South African online monitoring and insights company which counts Absa and Cell C among its customers, undertook the research this week and followed the story as it broke across the internet and social media.

JP Kloppers, the chief executive of BrandsEye, has argued that the results show the “online influencers might not have the most lengthy and prestigious political careers but they do carry heavy clout with everyday people”.

Kloppers said the question then is with the insight into the opinions of South Africans, “how will this information be used to make decisions going forward for all political parties, and how will the population’s response to this latest announcement correspond to the national elections around the corner?”

The report also revealed that race featured as a heated topic, but also showed people’s willingness to thoughtfully address the issue of race and move beyond it as a bone of contention, according to BrandsEye.

Just for interest’s sake: The @DA_news handle (91 tweets) was the most prominent political handle tracked, generating R1.14 billion in exposure around the topic.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Ann Crotty, Audrey D’Angelo and Asha Speckman.


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