Johannesburg - Today marks the end of an era, ending 65 years of joint control of the troubled Anglovaal empire by the Menell and Hersov families.

The families, which founded Anglovaal in 1933 and jointly controlled its industrial and mining companies, have split control of the group, with control of Anglovaal's mining operations going to the Menell family and control of Anglovaal Industries (AVI) going to the Hersov family.

The families exercise control through a special class of high-voting shares that will lose their high-votes by June 2001.

Rick Menell, the deputy chairman of Anglovaal, said the change was prompted by a desire to focus on adding value to the companies before the families lost control in 2001.

"There really is a need for a single-minded focus on adding value in the groups," he said.

The group as a whole has been trading at a significant discount to break-up value. Analysts have pointed to the possibility of a hostile takeover that could break up the group when control by the founding families lapsed.

Menell said in many respects the division reflected an existing division in family interest: James Hersov paid greater attention to the industrial assets and the Menell family played a greater role in managing the mining assets.

The group is in the midst of a restructuring exercise that will flatten the group pyramid and result in Anglovaal changing its name to Anglovaal Mining and taking over the main mining assets of the group. The industrial assets in AVI will be unbundled.

Yesterday AVI shares closed unchanged at R18,10, while Anglovaal Limited shares lost 5c to R22,15.