Billionaire Christo Wiese cuts Shoprite stake to free up about R3.8bn
By John Bowker, Bloomberg - Jun 27th 2018, 11:42
South African billionaire Christo Wiese will reduce his stake in Africa’s biggest supermarket chain by about R3.8bn as the businessman most stung by the near collapse of Steinhoff boosts his liquidity.
Shoprite will place shares representing 2.9% of its issued stock with institutional investors on behalf of Titan Premier Investments, one of Wiese’s investment vehicles, according to an emailed statement after the market closed on Tuesday.
The retail entrepreneur will remain the Cape Town-based company’s biggest shareholder, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.
Wiese has been selling assets to raise money since Steinhoff, a retailer in which he was also the largest investor, announced accounting irregularities in December. The 76-year-old has personally sold about R4.2bn worth of Shoprite stock over three separate deals in the wake of the scandal.
Steinhoff stock has since crashed more than 97%, causing a slump in Wiese’s net worth to $2.2bn (about R30bn) from more than $5bn (about R68bn). He’s suing the owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US for R59bn.
The 17 million Shoprite shares will be sold through an accelerated bookbuild in which Morgan Stanley, FirstRand’s Rand Merchant Bank and Barclays Africa Group’s ABSA Capital are the joint bookrunners.
Titan owned about 79 million shares in Shoprite ahead of the placement, representing about 14% of the grocery chain.
Shoprite shares had declined 0.9% by the close in Johannesburg, valuing the company at R133bn. In late 2016, Wiese had sought to merge the grocer with Steinhoff only for the talks to collapse amid a disagreement over valuations.
The billionaire bought into Steinhoff when he sold his Pepkor Holdings, Africa’s biggest clothing chain, to the company for $5.7bn (R77bn) in 2015.
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