Johannesburg - Empowerment company African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) boosted earnings per share by 67 percent to 14.04 cents for the interim period to February as it continued to grow its acquisition footprint.

The group said revenue increased 18 percent to R305 million, mainly due to growth achieved from the marine and technology divisions, with profit before tax increasing by 61 percent to R74m compared with R46m in the last period.

Chief executive Khalid Abdulla said the results exceeded its expectations and defied an environment dominated by a weak rand and a slowdown in the economy.

Abdulla said the company’s diversifying strategy had paid off with the group shifting its focus to expanding in Africa and internationally.

Diversifying

“We have managed to achieve more than 40 percent return year on year to our shareholders. It is because of the strong relationships we have with our customers, efficient management and the systems we put in place that has allowed the company to perform so well over a long period of time,” Abdulla said.

The company, formerly known as Sekunjalo Investments, said it planned to continue to grow organically and make more acquisitions.

In February, AEEI completed a R125m deal to acquire a 25 percent plus one share stake in Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), the South African subsidiary of Swedish Defence and civil security company, Saab.

AEEI also bought shares in Sygnia Asset Management in October for R10m, the value of which has subsequently increased by 80 percent.

“The company was trading at R8.40 per share and is now trading at R21 a share,” Abdulla said.

He said footprints for a massive take-off had been set for the company as it had already started to spread across Africa and in Europe.

Global footprint

“We are in Tanzania with our IT business. We are interested in doing business in Kenya and Nigeria… We do consulting work in the United Arab Emirates; so we are involved in different countries,” Abdulla said.

AEEI has a diverse portfolio of investment sectors including strategic investments in British Telecom Communication Services, Pioneer Food Group, Sygnia Asset Management and Saab Grintek Defence. It also invests in food and fishing, technology, health care, tourism and biotherapeutics.

The group’s asset base increased to R1.5 billion in the six months to February from R1.2bn in the corresponding period last year. The company attributed this mainly to the growth of its operations.

Revenue rose to R305m from R259m on greater revenue growth in marine and technological divisions. Net cash from operations increased by 169 percent from R11m to R29m.

Professor Vukile Mehana, the non-executive chairman of AEEI, said: “The performance to date has to be applauded as traditionally the second half of the group’s performance produces significantly stronger results due to the seasonal nature of some of the businesses.”

AEEI shares rose 3.23 percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R3.20.

BUSINESS REPORT