Steinhoff's unit of Unitrans Monument Toyota's front entrance in Johannesburg. Photo: Supplied
CAPE TOWN – Steinhoff International Holdings said on Wednesday that it had closed the sale of its automotive operation Unitrans to CFAO, a subsidiary of Japan’s Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC), while the sale of a 25.1percent stake to empowerment consortium Kapela Holdings would be concluded in a few weeks.

This followed eight months of negotiations for the sale of 74 percent of Unitrans Motor Group. The Competition Tribunal approved the deal this month.

Steinhoff has been selling assets to shore up its balance sheet after allegations of accounting fraud in December 2017 wiped out 95 percent of the international retail group’s market value. Some of its other sales this year have included the sale of its shares in JSE-listed KAP Industrial Holdings, the sale of properties in Europe and disposals of shares in Pepkor Holdings, and investment holding company PSG Group.

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Kapela Holdings is a black-owned investment holding company established 13 years ago. It consists of professionals and a broad-based group of people with disabilities who invest in medium to large companies, mainly subsidiaries of multinationals in South Africa. Kapela currently has 12 investments, one of which is TTAF, a subsidiary of CFAO. All their investments are with multi-national businesses, some subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies such as BP SA, NEC and Marsh.

Unitrans, with its turnover of more than R23 billion a year, will provide CFAO with access to Africa’s largest car market, and provide it with more than 99 dealerships for more than 10 car manufacturers, as well as insurance and car rental businesses.

“We believe there are strong mutual benefits for our two groups,” said Steinhoff Group chief executive Louis du Preez.

He said Unitrans had different characteristics from the remainder of the group’s retail portfolio, while the deal also provided the opportunity for Steinhoff to facilitate BBBEE.

Unitrans Motors Group, one of the largest automotive dealer networks in South Africa and which employs more than 6 000 people, would soon be rebranded CFAO Motors.

CFAO is a specialised distribution company in Africa and in French overseas territories for major international brands in automotive and pharmaceutical distribution, and it is growing in the consumer goods, new technology and energy solutions sectors.

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