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Another twist in sugar giant’s tale as results falter

Home Business Management Finance & Investment Another twist in sugar giant’s tale as results falter

CLAIMS that Terris Consortium has pulled off a stealthy manoeuvre, buying out 12 banks with a combined claim of R8 billion against Tongaat Hulett, and giving it over 80% of creditors’ votes, as reported by the City Press this weekend, are not yet unanimously confirmed.

For Robert Gumede’s Terris Sugar, it would be a sweet victory after being overlooked by the business rescue practitioners, in favour of Kagera Sugar, as the strategic equity partner for Tongaat Hulett.

The City Press quotes Terris Sugar spokesperson Rob Bessinger as saying: “I can confirm that we have signed an agreement with the Lender Group to acquire their R7.9 billion secured debt position in Tongaat Hulett, which effectively puts us in a very strong position to influence the future of Tongaat Hulett.”

The Business Rescue practitioners (BRPs) are tight-lipped and have said that they will formally respond through SENS or creditor updates. They are clearly sticking to the process which is outlined in a press statement issued on October 31.

The BRPs confirmed that creditors of the respective companies voted in favour of an extension of the publication dates of the companies’ respective amended business rescue plans to no later than November 24, 2023. The meetings to vote on the plans will take place by no later than November 30, 2023, the company said in a statement.

Following requests from shareholders and in the interest of transparency, the group also released a financial and operational update for the year ended March 31, 2022. “The group has been unable to publish these updates, or the interim results for the six months ended September 30, 2022, and audited annual financial statements for the financial year ended March 31, 2023, to date, as the auditors of Tongaat Hulett Limited (THL) require more certainty to conclude on the going concern assumption to sign off those results. Sign-off is linked to the content of the business rescue plans and the company’s solvency and liquidity position for at least 12-15 months,” according to the statement.

The BRPs, Metis Strategic Advisors, represented by Trevor Murgatroyd, Peter van den Steen and Gerhard Albertyn, commented that: “It is important to note that an extension of the publication of the amended business rescue plans does not impact the current workstreams or the length and cost of the business rescue process. These extensions will provide additional time for the conclusion of the relevant transaction(s) and for the incorporation of such transaction information in the plans. In addition, it will allow us to specify the recoveries and expected distributions to the various classes of creditors of the companies. The current court proceedings relating to THL’s payment obligations to the South African Sugar Association also remain ongoing.”

THL’s media statement highlighted the following features of the results for the year ended March 31, 2022

  • Strong local sugar demand and good market share maintained across all geographies
  • Net finance costs of R1.2 billion were reduced by 25%, due to lower debt levels and favourable exchange rate movements
  • Dividends and management fees received from Zimbabwe decreased by 65% to R139 million
  • Cash flow from operations deteriorated by R1.8 billion

Financial results

Recovery in the financial results for FY22 compared to FY21 was hampered by the following:

  • Lower raw sugar production
  • Continued negative effects of hyperinflation and currency devaluation in Zimbabwe
  • Property transactions constrained by Covid-19 pandemic conditions and social unrest
  • Civil unrest negatively impacted profits of the South African sugar operation by R158 million
  • Restatements arising from a review of technical accounting matters following the transition to new auditors
  • Contributions from the disposal of starch, Namibia and Eswatini operations in the prior year
  • Benefit from lower borrowings following asset disposals offset by remaining operations continuing to utilise cash

 Group financial results

  • Basic loss per share of 790 cents
  • (FY21: earnings per share of 1 918 cents, restated)
  • Headline loss per share of 585 cents
  • (FY21: headline loss per share of 508 cents, restated)

 Group results from continuing operations

  • Revenue unchanged at R15.5 billion (FY21: R15.5 billion restated)
  • Operating profit of R584 million (FY21: Profit R1.4 billion restated)
  • Adjusted EBITDA* down 67% to R591 million (FY21: R1.8 billion restated)
  • Hyperinflationary net monetary gain of R86 million (FY21: loss of R91 million, restated)
  • Basic loss from continuing operations increased to R1.07 billion (FY21: loss of R762 million restated)
  • Basic loss per share from continuing operations increased to 790 cents (FY21: loss of 565 cents restated)
  • Headline loss from continuing operations decreased to R789 million (FY21: loss of R942 million restated)
  • Headline loss per share from continuing operations decreased to 585 cents (FY21: loss of 699 cents restated)
  • Free cash outflow of R297 million (FY21: cash inflow of R1.5 billion restated)
  • No dividend was declared for the financial year
  • *‘Adjusted EBITDA’ (a non-IFRS measure) is defined as operating profit adjusted to exclude depreciation, amortisation, any impairment (or reversal thereof) of non-financial assets, any other non-trading, or non-recurring items, as well as fair value adjustments relating to biological assets.

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