The value destruction at investment house Brait after its ill-fated 2015 acquisition of UK fashion retailer New Look shows the grass is not always greener on the other side. At the time, Brait and many other SA investors rushed to find alternative homes for their capital as they feared a total corruption meltdown in SA. This rush offshore peaked at the height of the looting frenzy facilitated by former president Jacob Zuma’s government. Only it didn’t work out so well. After paying R14.2bn for 90% of New Look, Brait has now agreed to shrink its stake to between 18% and 30% of the company. This is to allow bondholders and other lenders to swap their debt in New Look for equity, which will give the 50-year-old retailer another shot at survival. It means New Look’s debt of £1.35bn will fall to £350m. It’s yet another blow for Brait, which, after having paid so much to buy New Look, wrote the entire investment down to zero in 2017. But it was out of options. In March New Look staved off...

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