Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

Shareholders of Africa’s largest grocer, Shoprite, are facing a R3.5bn bill for the cancellation of deferred shares that have given chair Christo Wiese a dominant position in the group since 2000. On Thursday, Shoprite announced proposed details of a keenly awaited transaction that is expected to simplify the company’s voting-share structure and remove uncertainty about a possible future sale of the shares to a third party. The deal will see Wiese’s voting interest in Shoprite reduced to 17.8% from 42.3%. His direct shareholding will increase to 17.8% from 14.8% as a result of the 20-million Shoprite ordinary shares he will receive in exchange for cancelling the deferred shares. This is Wiese’s second attempt in two years to cash in his controlling stake. In late 2017, shortly after Steinhoff had created JSE-listed entity Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star) to hold its African operations, Wiese planned to merge Shoprite with Star. The prelisting statement for that transaction, which was ...

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