TA divests from URL

Eric Chiriga



INVESTMENT conglomerate TA Holdings is disposing of its interest in associate company, United Refineries Ltd (URL), because it has limited control of

the firm’s board.


TA holds a 20% stake in URL.


“We feel that URL does not fall within our sphere of influence,” TA’s operations director, Don McDevitte, told an analysts’ briefing last week.


He said the 20% shareholding that the group held in the edible oils manufacturer was not enough for TA to gain boardroom control.


“We feel at 20% we do not have enough control and also the rights issue did not yield the desired results.”


Initially, URL was owned 100% by TA until it offloaded an 80% stake to a third party.


At least 71% of URL’s production consists of edible oils, while the remainder is soaps. The company is the country’s second largest vegetable oil processor.


Other TA’s associate companies are fertiliser producers Sable Chemicals and ZFC.


The associate companies contributed $47,4 billion to the group’s profit before tax in the year ended December 31, 2005.


URL made a loss of $783 million in the same period, having made a loss of $971 million the previous year.


Sable and ZFC recorded profits of $9,8 billion and $31,9 billion respectively.


“Associate companies’ contributions to the group profit before tax were not significant,” McDevitte said.


“We believe this sector (agrochemicals) would return to profitability with economically viable prices.”


TA also has significant investments in both local and offshore firms. Locally, it holds a 24% stake in pork processor Colcom, 15% in Econet and another 15% in Old Mutual, among others.


Its offshore investments include 81% in African Bank Investments (JSE), 10% in Letshego and 9% in Western Areas.


It also has investments in properties with 56% in hotel properties, 18% residential and 5% industrial.


TA recorded a profit before tax of $1,4 trillion in the year ended December 31, 2005, up 2 067% on the previous year.


Attributable profits went up 2 106% during the year to $1 trillion.


A final ordinary dividend of $265 per share was declared.


The group has announced its intentions to venture into mining if any investment opportunity arises.

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