Business

Shareholders in favour of Altron's new strategy

Read time 3min 10sec
Altron CEO Robbie Venter will be replaced by MTN SA CEO Mteto Nyati sometime before July.
Altron CEO Robbie Venter will be replaced by MTN SA CEO Mteto Nyati sometime before July.

Allied Electronics (Altron) shareholders have voted in favour of a new strategy for the group that will see the Venter family give up control of the company after over 51 years.

This in the same week the group announced CEO Robbie Venter would step down sometime before July, to be replaced by outgoing MTN SA CEO Mteto Nyati.

Last year, the group announced it would make some big changes that included the collapse of the company's historical dual share capital structure and the removal of the Venter family's absolute voting control over Altron.

The group has for some time been planning to change its control structure, to shift it from a family-controlled and -managed business to independent management.

Robbie Venter has been CEO of the company founded by his father, Bill Venter, since 2001 and will remain on the board as a non-executive director.

At a special general meeting yesterday, shareholders voted in favour of the new strategy and to allow the repurchase by the company of all of the issued N class shares in consideration for the issue of nine A class ordinary shares for every 10 N class shares.

They also agreed to a change that would see the Venter family's voting position being diluted to 25% plus one vote, for as long as the Venter family owns, directly or indirectly, in excess of 10% of Altron's A class shares.

In December, the JSE-listed group announced it had reached an agreement with Value Capital Partners (VCP) that will see the investment company make a capital investment of R400 million in the group. Altron says the introduction of VCP as a new strategic partner "is expected to be a catalyst in driving shareholder value creation by accelerating the company's growth initiatives within its core IT operations".

Shareholders also voted in favour of the appointment of VCP's co-founders, Antony Ball and Samuel Sithole, to the board as non-executive directors.

Altron is trying to revitalise the company after a number of tough financial years, including a loss of over R1 billion in total revenue for the year ended 29 February 2016. Attempts at a turnaround began bearing fruit late last year as the group saw headline earnings per share (HEPS) swing from a loss to a profit for the six months ended 31 August, despite revenue decreasing 14% to R11.4 billion.

The work is not yet done, as the group this week warned shareholders it expects basic earnings per share for the financial year ended 28 February 2017 to be a loss of no more than 60c per share - this is, however, compared to the previous financial year's loss of 259c on a total earnings basis. HEPS for the year are expected to be a profit of no less than 50c per share compared to the previous year's loss of 145c.

Altron's annual financial results are expected to be announced on or about 11 May.

Bill Venter founded the company in 1965 as Allied Electric, and it opened its doors as a designer and manufacturer of semi-conductor rectifier equipment, variable-speed drives and electronic signal equipment and transformers, among others.

Today, the group employs over 12 000 employees globally, and through its principal subsidiaries ? Altech, Bytes and Powertech ? is invested in telecommunications, power electronics, multimedia and information technology.

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