Rob Rose Editor: Financial Mail

Did the Industrial Development Corp (IDC) prematurely tip Basil Read, the 66-year-old construction company that built iconic structures, including Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium for the 2010 soccer World Cup and various Gautrain stations, into business rescue? First off, it must be said it would be unfair to entirely blame a bank — even a state-owned one with a mandate to create jobs and boost the economy — for Basil Read’s implosion. After all, construction firms have had a horror decade, what with revelations of collusion over World Cup contracts, the nasty reality that building projects fell off a cliff after 2010, and rank mispricing of the few contracts they got after that. A grim smattering of announcements this week has underscored this. Group Five, in the midst of a dramatic overhaul to keep itself afloat, said it "remains challenging to operate profitably in the SA construction environment"; Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon warned that "lower activity levels persist within local bui...

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