The A-to-tech of Remgro

Following the sad news of the passing of Remgro CEO, Thys Visser, in a car accident last week, BusinessTech takes a closer look at the group’s investment portfolio into the tech industry.

Originally established in the 1940s by the late Dr Anton Rupert as a tobacco manufacturer, Remgro’s investment portfolio currently includes more than 30 investee companies in the banking and financial services; medical services; food, wine and spirits; petroleum products; glass products; mining; media; and technology industries.

The group also has three operating subsidiaries, including Rainbow Chicken, Tsb Sugar, and Wispeco Holdings.

Remgro’s technology interests primarily represent the interests in the CIV group of companies and an investment in SEACOM.

Remgro has an effective interest of 43.8% in the CIV group which is active in the power, telecommunications and information technology sectors. The main subsidiaries are Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), which constructs and owns fibre-optic networks; CIE Telecom, which imports and distributes fibre and specialises in network management; and CIV Power, which specialises in cabling of power stations.

Since December 2011, Remgro said it has invested a further R150 million directly in Dark Fibre. This investment was part of an additional capital commitment amounting to R248.0 million increasing Remgro’s effective interest in Dark Fibre to 49.6%, from 46.5% before.

Remgro has an effective interest of 25% in SEACOM, which launched the first terabit undersea fibre-optic cable to connect Southern and Eastern Africa with Europe and Asia in July 2009.

In March, in announcing interim results for the six months ended December 2011, Remgro said that the CIV group contributed R37 million to its headline earnings, from R41 million in 2010.

SEACOM reported a headline loss of R75 million for the period under review, from a prior loss of R81 million, with Remgro’s share of this loss amounting to R19 million, from a R20 million loss in 2010.

Remgro also has a 30% interest in Britehouse, a venture holding business that invests in
companies with specific business software application skills and delivery track records. These businesses focus on business process automation and improvement.

It also had a 34.4% effective interest in vehicle tracking and vehicle recovery group, Tracker, which it sold in August 2011, for R1.23 billion.

Media interests consist of the interests in Sabido, MARC, One Digital Media
(ODM)
and Premier Team Holdings (PTH).

Remgro said that in his 32 years with the group, Visser had left an indelible mark on the company.

Johann Rupert, chairman of Remgro, stated: “We have lost an irreplaceable colleague. Thys was a wise man with impeccable judgement but, most of all, a man of deep integrity. He was a friend to every one of us, a family man, father and husband. His death is a great tragedy.”

Remgro said it would make an announcement regarding Visser’s successor in due course.

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The A-to-tech of Remgro