BILLIONS IN NIGERIA, ANGOLA
Nampak averts rights issue while restricted cash grows
CEO Andre de Ruyter says the sale and leaseback of 15 industrial properties raised R1.744bn and reduced gearing
Packaging giant Nampak, which has about R2bn of restricted cash locked up in Nigeria and Angola, has placated investor fears that a rights issue could be in the offing.
Speaking at the annual general meeting on Wednesday, CEO Andre de Ruyter said the sale and leaseback of 15 industrial properties in June 2016 had raised R1.744bn and pushed gearing below 50%.
"This transaction was instrumental in avoiding a rights issue at this stage. We don’t anticipate that this is a significant risk to be concerned about...."
Shareholder activist Chris Logan raised concerns over the pile of restricted cash, which grew from R700m in financial 2015 to R2bn in 2016. "This will continue to grow a lot more, perhaps to as much as R3bn by the end of this financial year."
De Ruyter said the growth in the restricted cash pile in Angola and Nigeria indicated significant profitability in the businesses in those countries. "If that cash pile started shrinking there would be even greater cause for concern."
Nampak was pursuing a number of steps to limit the exposure to further deterioration in the Nigerian naira and Angolan kwanza. "We have been steadily acquiring dollar-linked kwanza-denominated bonds in Angola. This programme continues and acts as a very solid hedge," he said.
Logan said that sometimes there were vast discrepancies between the "official" rate for the naira and the unofficial market rate.
Nampak chairman and former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni conceded that mismatches in currency rates were a challenge Nampak management faced all the time.
Asked whether Nampak had engaged with African governments about currency fluctuations and liquidity, Mboweni said Nampak was already contributing to the issue in Nigeria. He hoped to "visit the Reserve Bank governor in Nigeria for a cup of coffee to talk about the architecture of the foreign exchange policy. We don’t want to impose … just to discuss."
De Ruyter was cautious in responding to questions about dividends. He indicated that there was an intention to resume dividends as soon as this was deemed prudent by the board — after taking into account macroeconomic conditions and excluding restricted cash.