S Africa – Tokyo’s business empire reduced as succession battle nears

Mail and Guardian

Once an elephant in the empowerment game, Mvelaphanda has had a stake in everything from diamonds to healthcare, construction and business services.

Media reports this week that the Mvelaphanda Group and other shareholders in Absa’s empowerment vehicle, Batho Bonke, want to cash in their stakes in the bank marks the final steps in the winding down of the group.

But despite the steady unbundling of the Mvela Group’s assets and Sexwale’s diminishing stake, speculation continues that he is supporting his alleged political ambitions to become president of South Africa through his business interests.

After he left the private sector to take up an active role in politics as human settlements minister in 2009, he resigned his directorships in the companies that he helped to found, notably in the listed Mvela Group and the privately held Mvelaphanda Holdings.

In 2009, the last time his wealth was assessed, Sexwale’s holdings were estimated to be about R1.9-billion, according to Andrew McGregor of research organisation Who Owns Whom. It also calculated that his annual remuneration for that year was about R10.7-million.

Sexwale has made many statements about withdrawing from the running of these entities and he appears to retain an interest only in family trusts, which are shareholders in Mvela Holdings.

Recently, there has been much speculation about the Batho Bonke sale, although it has clouded a bid led by investment company Blackstar Group to see the Mvela Group acquire media house Avusa.

Mvela Holdings, a private company, has an 18% stake in the listed Mvela Group. Mvela Holdings is understood to comprise trusts held in the name of the Sexwale family and those of long-time business associates Mark Willcox and Mikki Xayiya.

Not much is known about Mvela Holdings, although it is understood to have vested interests in energy and minerals in Africa and elsewhere.

Willcox, the chief executive of Mvela Holdings, did not respond to requests for comment, but a prospectus document released when business services company Mvelaserve was unbundled from the Mvela Group and listed on the JSE in 2010, shines some light on the shareholders of Mvela Holdings. Read more…

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