Africa

EXCLUSIVE Investors launch fresh attempt to exit S.African bottle maker Consol - sources

3 minute read

A worker inspects beer bottles on a conveyor belt at the Sedibeng Brewery in Midvaal outside Johannesburg, South Africa, September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

  • Brait-led private equity consortium is seeking exit
  • IPO is amongst options being looked at, sources say
  • RMB, Barclays appointed as advisors to the process
  • PE group sought exit in 2018 through IPO but failed

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A consortium led by South African investment company Brait Plc (BATJ.J) has revived plans to exit glass bottle maker Consol Glass, two sources said, possibly via an initial public offering (IPO) three years after a previous failed attempt.

The private equity investors took Consol, which describes itself as sub-Saharan Africa's largest glass manufacturer, private in 2007 for 6.1 billion rand, worth around $1 bln at the time. They pulled the planned 2018 listing in Johannesburg citing challenging market conditions.

Brait's interest in the company is held via its Brait Fund IV, which has a 29.7% stake in Consol.

In 2018 the consortium, which also includes the private equity arm of insurer Old Mutual (OMUJ.J) and Sanlam (SLMJ.J), wanted to sell roughly a third of Consol to raise 3 billion rand, or around $250 million at the time after a depreciation in the value of the rand. That would have valued the entire company at around 10 billion rand.

They have now appointed banks to advise them in their latest attempt at an exit, two sources, one directly involved in the discussions and another familiar with the matter, told Reuters.

The options on the table include a second shot at an IPO, the source directly involved said, but declined to give any further details.

Consol, which counts blue-chip companies including brewing giants Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) and Heineken (HEIO.AS) among its clients, said in a statement its policy was not to comment on speculation but that it would advise all stakeholders accordingly in the event that any future IPO or change of ownership is concluded.

"We do not speculate or provide comment on rumours pertaining to the asset owned or managed by Brait," Brait told Reuters.

Britain's Barclays (BARC.L) is one of the banks that is working with the consortium, both sources said. The second source familiar with the talks said the investment banking arm of local lender FirstRand (FSRJ.J), RMB, had also been appointed.

Barclays and RMB declined to comment. Old Mutual and Sanlam did not immediately provide a comment.

Private equity investors in the region are using the emergence of South African companies from the most severe impacts of COVID-19 as an opportunity to review their portfolios.

Three investment bankers told Reuters a series of exit attempts are on the horizon, especially in the industrials sector as South Africa slowly catches up with a trend already underway in the West.

($1 = 14.6276 rand)

Reporting by Emma Rumney and Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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