Oppenheimers crack nod to take over Phumelela racing interests

Creditors of the stricken Phumelela voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Phumelela Business Rescue Practitioner (BRP) Plan at a special meeting on Tuesday 1 September. There were fears that the meeting would be postponed after British bookmaking firm Betfred submitted a rival offer to creditors and the BRP and KwaZulu-Natal operator Gold Circle launched an urgent court action over the ownership of Phumelela Gold International, in which it holds a share. However, the South Gauteng High Court dismissed the Gold Circle bid and creditors shrugged off last-minute appeals from various quarters on behalf of the Betfred bid. MOD prevailed by...
Creditors of the stricken Phumelela voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Phumelela Business Rescue Practitioner (BRP) Plan at a special meeting on Tuesday 1 September.

There were fears that the meeting would be postponed after British bookmaking firm Betfred submitted a rival offer to creditors and the BRP and KwaZulu-Natal operator Gold Circle launched an urgent court action over the ownership of Phumelela Gold International, in which it holds a share.

However, the South Gauteng High Court dismissed the Gold Circle bid and creditors shrugged off last-minute appeals from various quarters on behalf of the Betfred bid. MOD prevailed by a large majority vote, which sees the company – the business holding group of racing doyenne Mary Slack and her daughters – acquire the key racing assets of Phumelela.

Slack is the daughter of the late South African industry magnate Harry Oppenheimer and his wife Bridget, who were also mainstays of racing in South Africa for decades. Phumelela runs racing on the Highveld and in Eastern and Western Cape, along with racecourses and training centres. The BRP plan envisages the piecemeal sale of various other assets of Phumelela – notably shares in betting enterprises.

MOD has been represented in negotiations by a Restructuring Task Team (RTT), composed of leading racing industry figures who have identified key target areas for investment and development to ensure the South African horse racing product improves and transforms, becomes more relevant, accessible, and is distributed both nationally and internationally.

"We are very happy that creditors have voted in favour of the BRP's MOD-backed plan," said Charles Savage of the RTT team.

"We have an exciting journey ahead as we begin to manage and invest in the assets that MOD be acquiring. We see a bright future for racing in South Africa and MOD will need the support of the whole industry to deliver a strong, unified SouthAfrican racing product."

He continued: "What is critical to our success will be the reinvestment of profits into the industry, from grassroots up, tomake racing a broad-based, sustainable and relevant product for all South Africans."

MOD has been the sole funding supporter of the industry sincePhumelela went into voluntary business rescue in May this year. It provided "post-commencement finance" of up to R100 million to fund company operations during the business rescue process and after the game was restarted following a six-week pandemic shutdown.

A RTT press release issued after the vote stated: "In order to facilitate an orderly sale process, and on adoption of the plan, MOD will provide additional PCF funding of R550 million to pay creditors and allow the BRP time to sell remaining Phumelela assets outside of a distressed sale, thereby maximising value for creditors."

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