Brait to Sell Glass and Media Units in Favor of Growth Markets

  • Consol, Primedia stakes to be sold over next 2 years, CEO Says
  • Brait has $534 million in cash and debt for acquisitions

Brait SE plans to sell stakes in a South African glassmaker and a cinema-chain owner over the next two years as the company controlled by billionaire Christo Wieselooks to invest in higher-growth markets.

The company is pursuing a strategy of acquiring majority stakes in overseas companies including health-club provider Virgin Active and U.K. clothing retailer New Look, bought last year for a combined 1.5 billion pounds ($2.2 billion). In October it paid 172 million pounds to raise its stake in budget supermarket chain Iceland Foods to 57 percent, increasing its exposure to the U.K. high street.

The shares, which more than doubled last year, fell 3.8 percent to 149.99 rand as of 2:20 p.m. in Johannesburg, valuing the company at 78 billion rand ($4.9 billion). Brait has about 8.5 billion rand in cash and debt for acquisitions, Chief Executive Officer John Gnodde said by phone on Thursday.

The Brait IV Fund has owned 30 percent of Consol Glass and about 25 percent of Primedia since 2007, Gnodde said. Brait SE holds almost 10 percent of this fund, he said. Gnodde declined to comment on the possibility of a Consol or Primedia listing following the sales, or on whether Brait had received offers. Earlier, Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper reported that bankers are working on initial public offerings of the two companies.

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