Vaccinations to become mandatory at Curro Holdings premises
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CURRO Holdings, South Africa’s biggest private school group, is taking legal action to become a mandatory vaccinated company, it said yesterday as it placed dividends on ice and announced that enrolment had returned to pre-Covid-19 levels during the half-year ended June 2021.
Speaking to shareholders during the company’s financial results presentation for the half-year ended June 2021 held virtually, Curro’s chief executive Andries Greyling said the decision was in the best interest of recovering from Covid-19.
“We started a legal process within the legal framework of making sure that our business will be totally vaccinated within the next 12 months. I think that it is our obligation to get the world open and ensure that all our learners, parents and teachers are protected throughout the coronavirus,” said Greyling.
Curro, which made its debut on the JSE in 2011, said average learner numbers for the first half increased by 7.2 percent to 66 167 learners, up from 61 746 a year earlier.
Greyling said the basic education sector in South Africa remained volatile, given the persistence of the Covid19 pandemic.
“Public schools only opened fully for primary school learners from August 2. High school learners are still not back fully at most public schools, sport started only a week ago. So it has been an open and close scenario over the past 18 months,” said Greyling.
The group said it was parking its dividend policy given the economic turmoil due the pandemic.
“Pursuant to the uncertainties brought about by the ongoing Covid19 pandemic and in light of the recent rights issue concluded, the board has resolved to not pay a dividend in respect of the period under review in order to preserve cash and to deliberately use capital to fund Curro’s further expansion and growth prospects. The board will re-evaluate Curro’s dividend policy at the end of this year,” the company said.
Financial highlights included the 12.2 percent increase in revenue to R1.784 billion up from R1.590bn in 2020. However, operating costs in the first quarter of 2021 were 5.7 percent higher than a year ago and facility costs, including water and lights, increased by 18 percent in the first half of the year.
Greyling said the group was taking legal action against municipalities which changed zoning from education to business and then backdated these for many years.
“We tried to resolve these issues logically, but now we are at the point of taking legal action against them and hopefully we will see rectification of these accounts soon,” said Greyling.
Headline earnings and headline earnings per share fell to R116 million representing a 27.5 percent decline from R160m a year ago and by 48.8 percent from 37.9c to 19.4c, respectively.
The R1.5bn rights issue in September last year had resulted in there being 42 percent more weighted average shares in issue in the first half of 2021 compared with the first half of last year, which reduced the respective earnings per share figures meaningfully. Curro said the company now had 597 961 595 shares issued, compared with 412 087 989 shares at the end of the previous comparable period.
Curro’s share price closed 2.06 percent lower at R11.40 on the JSE yesterday.