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One of the best known and truest aphorisms of banking is that if you owe the bank a million rand and you can’t repay it, you have a problem, but if you owe the bank a billion rand and can’t repay it the bank has a problem. I suspect the controlling shareholder of the Independent Group, Iqbal Survé, had this idea in mind when he decided to list Sagarmatha on the JSE, after injecting the Independent Group and other businesses. The listing was pulled on a technicality by the JSE 24 hours before the final hurdle. The company put a brave face on it, saying it would consider a listing on the New York and Hong Kong exchanges, with a JSE secondary listing, or perhaps a dual listing. Or it would sell some of the assets. The company also affirmed that of the maximum R6bn it hoped to raise it had in fact raised R4bn through private placement, but it was unable to take advantage of the investment for legal reasons. A lot has been written about Sagarmatha by both supporters and detractors, but I...

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