Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Black investors are getting deeper into debt as they buy up more and more of white corporate South Africa

Jamie Robertson:

For the moment they can pay off the loans using dividends they earn from their new shares.

But what happens when the company hits a bad patch and can't afford to make these dividend payments.

Where does the cash come from then?

Soria Hay, the executive director at a debt and equity specialist Bravura explains: "If the economic growth rate in South Africa were to go down companies will not be able to pay the dividends that the debts are being serviced with.

"For that reason black empowerment transactions will be unsuccessful in a down-turned economy. In that situation you will have an untransformed but economically unhealthy environment."

This is perhaps the most worrying aspect of the new black ownership deals that are being forged in South Africa.

They do seem to have a level of commitment not seen a decade ago.

But they depend upon continued growth.

Just like someone with a big mortgage depends on being in work to pay off the debt on their house, so South Africa's new black shareholders depend on their companies and their country to keep on working.

Fears over South Africa's exodus

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