Christo Wiese’s Brait Abandons U.K. Move Amid Brexit UncertaintyBy
Brait SE, the investment company part-owned by South African billionaire Christo Wiese, abandoned plans to move its head office to the U.K. and seek a London stock market listing because of uncertainty over the U.K.’s pending exit from the European Union.
“In light of the uncertainty introduced by the timing and form of Brexit and the potential impact on capital markets, the board has determined not to proceed with the transfer and premium listing at this time,” the San Gwann, Malta-based company said in a statement Friday. Brait “remains convinced of the long-term benefits” of the move, and could revive the plans at a later date, it said.
Brait said in September it planned to move to the U.K. after significantly increasing its exposure to the country in 2015, when it bought gym chain Virgin Active and clothing retailer New Look and increased its stake in discount grocer Iceland.
The postponement of Brait’s plans comes as banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley say they’re preparing to move staff and operations away from the U.K. capital to other locations within the EU. By contrast, some international companies are moving their head offices to Britain, lured by a government commitment to lower corporation-tax rates.
Brait’s Johannesburg-listed stock has halved since the June 23 Brexit vote, which Wiese said in December he hadn’t expected.
Wiese, South Africa’s third-richest man with a net worth of $6.2 billion, owns a 35 percent stake in Brait. The shares pared gains and traded 0.4 percent higher at 77.81 rand at 1.30 p.m. in Johannesburg.