Marc Hasenfuss Investors Monthly editor, writer & columnist

Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) needs to be regarded a little differently from the JSE’s other large diversified investment counters. Unlike Remgro, PSG, Brait, Brimstone, AEEI and even recently listed Universal Partners and Long4Life, there is a substantial dollop of debt at the centre of HCI. At a shareholders’ meeting last year, HCI CE Johnny Copelyn admitted that the company was somewhat cash constrained in its deal-making endeavours with debt at the centre of R2.5bn. He noted that HCI preferred to do "sensible transactions" — somewhere in the range of R100m-R500m. At the meeting Copelyn argued that the debt levels were not necessarily a bad thing. "We get lots of opportunities, but we are always anxious about what we can fund." Recently released results to end-March show HCI holding nearly R14bn in long-term borrowings, R5.4bn as a current portion of borrowings, and a bank overdraft of R2.3bn. The interest bill for the period was R1.6bn. The breakdown of the debt is enlig...

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