Tuesday, November 30, 2010

People of South Africa threaten to go on strike

Walmart offers R17bn for Massmart

30 November 2010

Massmart has received written notice from US firm Walmart of its firm intention to make an all-cash offer to acquire a 51 percent stake in the South African retailer.

Massmart's board said on Monday that it was "unanimous" in support of the proposed deal, which would see Walmart pay R148 per ordinary share, but that it still needed the support of a two-thirds majority of shareholders and the South African authorities.

The board said the offer from Walmart had followed a rigorous due diligence process.

"There are still a number of important conditions that need to be fulfilled before the transaction can be implemented. These include amongst others two thirds majority shareholder support (75 percent) and approval from the South African competition authorities."

"The Massmart board has considered the terms of the offer and the opinion of [bankers] Morgan Stanley, the independent advisor and is unanimous in its support for the proposed transaction. The total transaction is valued at approximately R17-billion for 51 percent of Massmart," the retailer said in a statement.

It said offers on comparable terms were being extended to the beneficiaries of the employee share trust, the Thuthukani trust and the black scarce skills trust.

"These offers will be inter-conditional with the offer to ordinary shareholders."

Strong growth potential

Massmart CEO Grant Pattison said the offer was a sign of confidence in the local economy and could create new jobs: "This is a milestone in Massmart's history and is a vote of confidence not only in Massmart and our employees, but also in the strong growth potential of South Africa and the continent," he said.

"If approved, the transaction promises to be very positive for the regional economy, facilitating job creation, providing new opportunities for small and medium businesses and improving competitiveness.

"In gaining access to Walmart's experience and capabilities, we expect to be able to offer consumers an even wider selection of products that are competitively priced and more consistently available, delivering an improved customer experience across all our stores."

Union deals 'to be honoured'

Pattison said Walmart had undertaken to respect existing agreements with trade unions, who had been opposed to the deal given the firm's reputation for being at loggerheads with labour in the United States.

"We reaffirm Walmart's commitment to honour existing union agreements and to maintain our broad-based black economic empowerment credentials, working diligently with all parties to grow skills, create jobs in the retail industry, advance transformation and further socio-economic development initiatives," he said.

Walmart's interest in acquiring a share of Massmart was announced to the market on 27 September.

The SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union had threatened to go on strike if the deal went ahead. Saccawu this month handed Pattison a set of demands pertaining to the proposed deal, including that employment conditions and agreements remain intact.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel had also set up a panel to advise the government of the likely implications of Walmart's bid.


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